Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that primarily affects joints but can also impact other systems of the body. As an esteemed orthopedic surgeon in Kolkata, Dr. Kalyan Guha provides a comprehensive overview of this condition to help patients better understand its implications and management.

RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, RA affects the lining of the joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. It typically affects smaller joints first, such as those in the hands and feet, and can progress to larger joints over time.

Symptoms of RA include tender, warm, swollen joints, stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity, and fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite. These symptoms often occur in a symmetrical pattern, meaning if one knee or hand is affected, the other one is likely to be affected as well.

Diagnosis involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, blood tests for markers of inflammation such as ESR and CRP, and the presence of rheumatoid factor (RF) or anti-CCP antibodies. Imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI can help determine the extent of joint damage.

Treatment aims to control symptoms and prevent joint damage. Medications include NSAIDs for pain relief, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) to slow disease progression, and biologic agents that target specific parts of the immune system. Physical therapy and regular exercise are crucial for maintaining joint flexibility and strength. In severe cases, surgical interventions might be necessary to repair or replace damaged joints. Living with RA can be challenging, but with early diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan by an expert like Dr. Kalyan Guha, patients can manage their symptoms effectively and maintain a good quality of life. If you or a loved one is experiencing persistent joint pain or stiffness, consulting an experienced orthopedic doctor in South Kolkata like Dr. Guha can be the first step towards better health and mobility.

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