It starts with a bit of pain in your fingers or toes that comes and goes. You figure it’ll go away completely on its own, but instead it worsens. Now you’re feeling increasingly stiff, especially in the mornings, and fatigue is setting in. Should you see a doctor?
The answer is undoubtedly yes. While not all joint or extremity pain derives from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), that’s often how the disease begins. And the longer you go without treatment, the higher your risk for complications becomes.
Our expert team at Houston Pain Specialists, led by board-certified pain management specialist Hui Kang, MD, diagnoses and treats rheumatoid arthritis, with the aim of reducing your symptoms and staving off damage throughout your body.
The following information might prompt you to make smart decisions about your joint pain needs.
Rheumatoid arthritis basics
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of many types of arthritis, the umbrella term for chronic joint pain diseases. Over 50 million Americans live with arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis is a relatively common form.
Once you have RA, your immune system mistakenly perceives tissues in your body as toxic and attacks them. As a result, the condition eats away at the lining of various joints, causing pain and inflammation.
Why tending to RA symptoms matters
Rheumatoid arthritis causes irreversible damage in your joints. This means that the longer you ignore its symptoms, the more damage you accumulate with effects that last for good.
In the short term, you can experience not only pain, but fever, fatigue, an increased risk for infection, and general malaise.
Long-term complications of RA include:
- Bone thinning and an increased risk for injury
- Deformity in your hands and feet
- Dry and damaged eyes
- Heart disease
- Increased emotional stress
- Reduced quality of life
- Shortened lifespan
- Skin issues, such as nodules and rashes
How to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
While there’s no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, a lot can be done to manage and minimize your symptoms, while protecting you from the worst of complications. At Houston Pain Specialists, we create a customized treatment plan based on your symptoms and overall health.
Your plan might include one or more of the following:
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Approved routine exercise
- Oral steroids
- Physical therapy
- Relaxation exercises
- Steroid or facet injections
- Joint injections
- Rhizotomy or radiofrequency ablation
- Other interventional procedures
In severe cases or when more conservative treatments fail to help, we may recommend surgery to remove the lining of an affected joint or replace the joint completely.
To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis or get the care you need, contact our Houston, Texas, office today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kang.