Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and painful type of arthritis. And while thereís no known cure at this time, people can take steps to reduce the pain and damage to the joints caused by the condition. Dr. Edward Hill explains the steps in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Usually, your immune system keeps you from getting sick. But if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks your own body's cells. Joints between bones usually are attacked first. Later, other parts of the body also may be affected.

Symptoms usually start slowly, over weeks or months. You may notice different joints hurting, especially your wrists or the base of your fingers. You may have pain in the same joints on both sides of your body.

Ibuprofen or naproxen may help with pain and swelling but but they do not slow the damage to your joints. Steroid injections or pills can also help with swollen joints.

Antirheumatic medicines can help fight rheumatoid arthritis. If these medicines are started early enough, they can slow the damage to your joints. Other treatments are important, too. Physical therapy and occupational therapy can help.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong disease. Sometimes it can go away for a while with treatment. It is important to see your doctor as soon as you have symptoms.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.