There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis; however, early medical intervention has been shown to be important in improving outcomes.
How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated?
There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. To date, the goal of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce joint inflammation and pain, maximize joint function, and prevent joint destruction and deformity. Early medical intervention has been shown to be important in improving outcomes. Aggressive management can improve function, stop damage to joints as seen on X-rays, and prevent work disability. Optimal treatment for the disease involves a combination of medications, rest, joint-strengthening exercises, joint protection, and patient (and family) education. Treatment is customized according to many factors such as disease activity, types of joints involved, general health, age, and patient occupation. Treatment is most successful when there is close cooperation between the doctor, patient, and family members.
In arthrocentesis, a sterile needle and syringe are used to drain joint fluid out of the joint for study in the laboratory.
RA Diagnostic Test: Arthrocentesis
The doctor may elect to perform an office procedure called arthrocentesis. In this procedure, a sterile needle and syringe are used to drain fluid out of the joint for study in the laboratory. Analysis of the joint fluid can help to exclude other causes of arthritis, such as infection and gout. Arthrocentesis can also be helpful in relieving joint swelling and pain. Occasionally, cortisone medications are injected into the joint during the arthrocentesis in order to rapidly relieve joint inflammation and further reduce symptoms.
The first step in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is a meeting between the doctor and the patient.
How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed?
The first step in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is a meeting between the doctor and patient. A doctor with special training in arthritis and related diseases is called a rheumatologist. The doctor reviews the history of symptoms, examines the joints for inflammation and deformity, the skin for rheumatoid nodules, and other parts of the body for inflammation. Certain blood and X-ray tests are often obtained. The diagnosis will be based on the pattern of symptoms, the distribution of the inflamed joints, and the blood and X-ray findings. Several visits may be necessary before the doctor can be certain of the diagnosis. The distribution of joint inflammation is important to the doctor in making a diagnosis. In rheumatoid arthritis, the small joints of the hands, wrists, feet, and knees are typically inflamed in a symmetrical distribution (affecting both sides of the body). When only one or two joints are inflamed, the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis becomes more difficult. The doctor may then perform other tests which ‘are described on the next slides.
This illustration shows the differences between a normal, healthy joint, a joint affected by osteoarthritis, and one affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
What Is the Difference Between Normal, Healthy Joints and Arthritic Joints?
A joint is where two bones meet to allow movement of body parts. Arthritis means joint inflammation. The joint inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis causes swelling, pain, stiffness, and redness in the joints. The inflammation of rheumatoid disease can also occur in tissues around the joints, such as the tendons, ligaments, and muscles. In some patients with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammation leads to the destruction of the cartilage, bone, and ligaments, causing deformity of the joints. Damage to the joints can occur early in the disease and progress as the individual ages.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is arthritis that causes joint inflammation and stiffness for more than six weeks in a child 16 years of age or younger.
What Is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is arthritis that causes joint inflammation and stiffness for more than six weeks in a child 16 years of age or younger. It affects approximately 50,000 children in the United States. Inflammation causes redness, swelling, warmth, and soreness in the joints, although many children with JRA do not complain of joint pain. Any joint can be affected, and inflammation may limit the mobility of affected joints.