Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and a chronic, inflammatory condition. It involves painful, debilitating symptoms of the joints and tissues throughout the body. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissues, causing inflammation and damage that can grow progressively worse over time. There’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but orthopaedic doctors recommend treating the disease as early as possible. Otherwise, patients run the risk of more severe, widespread damage.
The treatment recommendations for rheumatoid arthritis can depend on the exact stage a patient is in. During this earliest stage, the joint capsule is inflamed and the synovial tissue is swollen. Patients will experience joint pain with movement, stiffness, and swelling. Upon examining X-rays, doctors will generally not notice any signs of joint destruction, although there may be some bone erosion.
Stage two is moderate rheumatoid arthritis. Patients are diagnosed with stage two when the inflammation of the synovial tissue begins to spread and affect the cartilage of the joint. As the cartilage is destroyed, the joint pain is accompanied by loss of range of motion and mobility in that area.
Stage three is severe rheumatoid arthritis. Patients in stage three will experience worsening, debilitating pain. The affected joint can be severely swollen, and patients are likely to experience a loss of mobility, and perhaps poor muscle strength. The joint may start to look physically deformed. During stage three, the inflammation starts to destroy the bone, as well as the cartilage.
Stage four is terminal or end-stage rheumatoid arthritis. The inflammatory process ceases. Fibrous tissue forms, and the joints no longer function due to the severe damage. Nodules, or bumps, can be visible under the skin. Patients will still suffer from pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility in this stage.
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the many conditions we can treat here at MK Orthopaedics. Our orthopaedic doctors in Joliet are committed to helping each of our patients live full, active lives without painful symptoms. Call (815) 741-6900 to request a consult with an orthopaedic doctor.