Rheumatoid Arthritis, commonly called RA, is a systemic arthritic disease that primarily affects the connective tissues of the body and joints. More commonly found in women, rheumatoid arthritis can attack a wide variety of joints causing pain, discomfort, and eventual deformity.
Chronic and progressive, this disease is most commonly found in the smaller, more commonly used joints in the hands and feet. An examination of hands stricken with RA will reveal joint and finger deformities that may also appear with nodules seen among the joints. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, and patients are encouraged to be aware of their family medical history for the presence of the disease.
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis can be challenging. People who may have the disease should meet with a Rheumatologist to receive an accurate diagnosis and evaluate treatment options. For individuals experiencing joint pain, deformity, and dysfunction, patients may be recommended to seek help from orthopedic surgeons and hand therapists for treatment.
A conservative approach of hand therapy can provide techniques and treatments that can help manage pain and increase function. Customized splinting can be used to help prevent or correct a hand deformity commonly caused by arthritic conditions. In more serious cases, pain-relieving injections, medications, and joint replacement may be utilized to help improve the patient’s quality of life.
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