Doc, do I have Rheumatoid Arthritis? (RA)

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In red joints usually involved

In red joints usually involved

RA may affect people at any age. The first symptoms usually affect the small joints of hands and feet, but knees, ankles, shoulders or any other joint can be involved. RA spares the spine, except at the cervical level. The most frequent symptoms are pain and swelling in the mentioned joints, being especially painful early in the morning. Patients usual complaint of morning stiffness, and say to you, I notice that I can’t close and open my hands easily when I wake up. It may take a few minutes or even two hours, in returning to the normality. The most important advice if you have these symptoms consult to your rheumatologist ASAP and don’t waste your time taking painkillers. Don’t be your doctor …¡ A very simple clinical examination, a blood test and an X-Rays, of hands and feet, most of the times should be enough to give the clue. Now we know that early recognition of RA improves outcome and quality of life. Aggressive treatment from the beginning (Methotrexate, among others) and new drugs launched at the beginning of this century (Biologics) have changed the profile of the disease. In the old times, I had many patients coming to my clinic in a wheelchair. This situation, fortunately, is almost over.

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