Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the joints. Individuals with RA may experience feelings of pain and stiffness in their joints due to inflammation. It can be a debilitating condition that significantly impacts the quality of life of those who suffer from it. For example, someone suffering from extreme RA may struggle to leave their house or live independently. Fortunately, there are several cutting-edge technologies available to help diagnose and treat RA.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, resulting in swelling and stiffness in the joints. RA can affect multiple joints throughout the body and can cause damage to bones, cartilage and organs. Common symptoms of RA include joint pain, swelling, stiffness and fatigue.
What technologies are used to diagnose RA?
Imaging tests: Imaging tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound can help detect joint damage and inflammation, which are characteristic of RA.
Blood tests: Blood tests can help detect the presence of certain antibodies, such as rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies, which are often found in people with RA.
What technologies are used to treat RA?
Biologic therapies: Biologic therapies are a type of medication that targets specific proteins in the body’s immune system that are responsible for causing inflammation. Biologics can help reduce inflammation in the joints, slow down the progression of the disease, and improve overall quality of life.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): DMARDs are a class of drugs that work to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation in the joints. These drugs can help slow down the progression of RA and prevent joint damage.
TENS machine: A physiotherapist may use a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine to send a shock of electricity to nerves. The shock numbs the nerves, helping to ease the pain of RA. They may do this in conjunction with other non-invasive treatments, such as heat and cold therapy.
If you’re struggling with RA, you may benefit from working with a healthcare professional to develop a personalised treatment plan that meets your unique needs. To find out more about the treatment options that could benefit you, get in touch with Dr Stephanie Barrett today.