The Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Man feeling joint pain on his wrist

Why do joint pain, stiffness, and swelling seem troublesome? Put simply, they could indicate warning signs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is a chronic inflammatory joint disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the minute you feel any joint pain and potential signs of RA, it’s best that you get evaluated as soon as possible. Generally speaking, you must get help if your symptoms don’t go away in six weeks.

Why Early Evaluation and Diagnosis Are Immensely Vital

Although getting an early evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment might appear rushed, there are crucial reasons why. For starters, with RA, the progression of joint damage is irreversible. Even if your body attempts to heal itself, it won’t ever be the same. Various studies have found that in some cases, even when an individual is first diagnosed with RA, doctors already see irreversible changes on MRIs scans and X-ray results, which tells why early diagnosis and prompt treatment are critical. Additionally, early treatment can help stop bone and joint destruction from progressing. RA could result in continuous bone loss and osteoporosis, which can leave individuals with an increased risk of trauma fracture.

What Early Treatment Involves

The first recommended RA treatment is usually disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs known as methotrexate such as Trexall and Rheumatrex. You might also be prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids. These might be enough for a majority of RA patients, but some might be prescribed higher doses. However, what happens if these medications won’t suffice? Your doctor would most likely prescribe another medication such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) drugs to help your body fight inflammation more effectively.

Lifestyle Changes Can Also Help

Knee in pain

Aside from medication, rheumatologists also recommend these lifestyle changes to help manage your RA:

  • Quit smoking if you haven’t already. Studies suggest that smokers have an increased risk of developing RA, and continuing to smoke when taking medications for RA could reduce their effectiveness. In relation to this, if you’re considering smoking medical marijuana to supplement your pain medicine, before you buy CBD from your local dispensary in Mesa, Arizona, consult your doctor first to determine which option is best for you. You might be tempted to go with the smoking delivery method. Know that you have other, more suitable options such as edibles, vaporizers, pills, and tinctures.
  • Lose excess weight. You don’t necessarily have to be stick-thin and puffed up with muscle, you just need to lose some extra weight in order to reduce the strain on your already strained joints due to RA.
  • Engage in regular exercise. Just make sure to stick with low-impact exercises such as yoga, bodyweight exercises without jumps, and Pilates at first, and go from there.
  • Change up your typical diet. Plenty of RA patients follow an anti-inflammatory diet to help them manage their symptoms and prevent flares.

Get diagnosed early so that you can begin working with a rheumatologist to manage your symptoms. In the event that the first treatment strategy doesn’t work for you, inform your doctor so that you can tweak it. It’s all about trial and error. Once you find the perfect combination of treatments, stick to it.


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