Your Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis & Treatment

In this week's edition of "Your Health" Dr. Jessica Short with Internal Medicine Associates, explains how Rheumatoid Arthritis is diagnosis and treated.

"As a rheumatologist, we see a lot of unusual stuff like autoimmune diseases.  So, rheumatoid arthritis is probably the biggest one. I have patients, a lot of time,  that ask me should their family members be tested.  There's really not a way to do that right now.  It's just if, they have a family member that starts having symptoms, then I would recommend that they go ahead and be evaluated. To diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis: you want to have joint involvement, so you want to have a swollen joint.  But, a lot of times, it's very subtle changes. Morning stiffness greater than an hour, and also some of the lab values that we like to see don't necessarily have to have them to have the diagnosis is an elevated rheumatoid factor, and elevated CCP antibody, or your doctor may order inflammatory markers that also could be elevated.  We have a system that we plug in to that helps us as far as trying to make the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, but any rheumatologist would tell you not every patient fits into certain criteria.  You have to go with your gut, a lot of times.  With rheumatoid arthritis, thankfully, there's a ton of research that's being done and there's a lot of new medications that are, that are coming down the pipeline.  The biologics,they're not new, they've been around for over 10 years, but there are always new ones that are available.  The ones that you see on the television a lot, there's just recently been a new oral biologic.  It's the first one that you can take by mouth called Xeljanz.  That's exciting to have new medications available, and then of course, you see all the other ones that are on the television, as well, the injectables.  So, we have options to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and so with rheumatoid arthritis the goal is to try to see the patient early and diagnose early. Usually, we try to, if we can, get them diagnosed within the first three months and then get them on treatment." said Dr. Short.

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