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Surgery for rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis


Rheumatoid arthritis is a medical condition which features with swelling and stiffness of the affected joints. Apart from swelling the joints are rather painful. Chronic inflammation, which is typical for rheumatoid arthritis, eventually leads to destruction of the affected joints. The stiffness limits the movements and the patient cannot properly perform every day activities. This illness predominantly affects women. Furthermore, the disease starts between the age of 40 and 60. 

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis has not been found yet. This illness is classified as autoimmune disease. The antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis are identified and they are very helpful in setting of the diagnosis. Rheumatoid arthritis runs in some families.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The patient suffers from painful and stiff joints. The affected joints are swollen and the movements are limited. All joints can be affected including joints of the hands and feet, wrists, elbows, knees and even neck. The joints are symmetrically affected. In severe cases apart from joints even organs such as heart, lungs, eyes, nerves and blood vessels can be damaged. This can be explained by the presence of antibodies which if not stopped can lead to significant damage.

In some patients who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis specific bumps form. They predominantly occur on elbows, knuckles, along the spine and bones of the lower leg.

Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The doctor will exam the patient and ask questions about the disease. Blood is tested and x ray of the affected parts of the body is done. Blood tests can confirm the presence of the antibodies.

Surgery for Rheumatoid Arthritis

The patients are in the beginning treated with medications and physical therapy. Only, if these two modalities do not contribute to reduction and elimination of the symptoms the patient undergoes surgery.

The goal of the surgery is to provide with the pain relief and to improve and restore the function of the damaged joints.

The surgery can solve the problems with fingers and hands and improve the range of movements. Arthroscopy is performed to remove debris and inflamed tissue and in synovectomy inflamed joint tissue is resected. Arthroplasty is a surgical procedure in which parts of the hip or the knee are replaced. The problems with the vertebra can be successfully solved by cervical spinal fusion. And deformities of the bones in feet are treated with resection of the metatarsal heads.

Unfortunately, in rheumatoid arthritis many joints are affected and surgery can only deal with problems of one or only a few joints. Not all the joints can be treated surgically.

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