Written by Amy Pusey (last updated April 27, 2009)
Over 2.1 million people in the United States are affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis. While doctors do not know the exact cause of this joint disease, their medical research suggests it is actually an autoimmune disorder. Furthermore, it is believed that the majority of sufferers have a genetic or inherited pre-disposition that caused them to develop it.
At this point, you may be thinking about your own achy joints—the knees, shoulders, or hands—and wondering, "What are the actual symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, and could my pains be caused by it?" Let us take a closer look at them to find out:
It is important to note that when left untreated, Rheumatoid Arthritis may potentially affect or damage other areas of the body, such as the eyes, lungs, and nerve-endings. However, early diagnosis and treatment relieves most patients of their symptoms, and greatly reduces the risk of permanent damage in approximately 90%-95% of sufferers.
The treatment prescribed for an individual's Rheumatoid Arthritis will depend on severity. Currently, there are eight types of medication used in treatment. Some of the more recognizable medications include:
For individuals who no longer reap the benefits of medication-only treatment, or have developed damage to joints or deformities, there are also surgical procedures that may be a viable option. Rheumatoid Arthritis surgery may include one of the following procedures:
Prevention is the best medicine, so if you can relate to the symptoms associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis; visit your physician for a formal evaluation. In addition, if you are currently under doctor's care for the disease and your treatment is not helping, discuss the situation with your physician to determine the next step in your course of treatment.
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