What you need to know about rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Courtesy Advanced Hand Specialists, Northshore LIVING WELL Magazine

What is it ?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a medical condition in which the immune system attacks and damages many parts of the body, including the hands. It is primarily treated by medical doctors, and may require treatment by an arthritis specialist. Medical resources on rheumatoid and other arthritic conditions are available through the American College of Rheumatology.

What caused it ?

The reasons for developing rheumatoid are not currently known. What is known is that people with rheumatoid arthritis have inflammation or irritation of many of the moving parts of their bodies, including the joints and tendons. This causes pain, swelling, weakness and, over time, loss of the normal shape and alignment of joints. Swelling around the tendons can lead to trigger fingers and carpal tunnel syndrome.

What can you do to help ?

If you have any questions about rheumatoid arthritis and its symptoms, you should discuss them with your medical doctor. Rheumatoid is first and foremost a medical disorder, treated with medication, and surgery is an option to consider if medical treatment does not provide adequate control.

What can a therapist do to help ?

A hand therapist can provide advice on living with rheumatoid, and give helpful information on how to live one’s life without aggravating or accelerating the damage caused by rheumatoid. This is often referred to as a “joint protection program.” Therapists can also provide some special tools to assist people whose hands have been damaged by rheumatoid perform routine daily activities. These are called “adaptive devices.”

For more information on rheumatoid arthritis and how Advanced Hand Specialists can help you, contact them at 985-674-4170.