Overview

There are many forms of arthritis (inflammation of the joints) and one of them is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). It is a joint disease where the immune system (which protects us from infections) mistakenly attacks the synovium (the membrane that lines the joints). This causes a long term (chronic) inflammation that affects the joints, normally on the upper and lower limbs. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of arthritis that occurs in the elbow joint.

Symptoms

  • Stiffness in the joints that last for hours (usually in the morning)
  • Red, warm & swollen joints, nodules or lumps around the elbow
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness (fatigue)

Causes

  • No known cause for the onset of the disease (idiopathic)
  • Smoking increases the risk

Treatment

There are three aspects to treating rheumatoid arthritis:

  1. Drugs
    • Pain killers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
    • Steroids
  2. Physiotherapy
    • Exercises that strengthen muscles and increase flexibility
    • Learn to use heat/ice to help with recovery
    • Therapeutic massages to soothe the pain
  3. Surgery
    • Arthroplasty (joint replacement)
    • Other procedures recommended by the surgeon

Is pain affecting your day-to-day life and mental health?

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