This article will discuss how to treat seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (RA). So, what exactly is seropositive rheumatoid arthritis and how do you know if you have it? When you go in for rheumatoid arthritis testing, they will take blood work and discover if you have the rheumatoid factor (RF) in your blood. This factor is produced when your body attacks its own immune system and determines what type of rheumatoid arthritis you may have. When your test is positive, it is called seropositive rheumatoid arthritis and occurs in approximately 80% of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals that test seronegative and will usually have a milder form of rheumatoid arthritis.
To find out if you have seropositive rheumatoid arthritis you will need:
- a complete medical examination by your physician
- specific testing for rheumatoid arthritis, including a blood work up
- You will need a team of health care providers to help treat your rheumatoid arthritis. A rheumatologist who specializes in conditions of the muscles and skeleton will most likely prescribe your treatment. Your primary care doctor will help to monitor how effective your treatment is, any other medical conditions you may have and any social or psychological effects of the RA. Other members of your team may be a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. A psychologist may round out your team.
- Rheumatoid arthritis may cause complications that require immediate treatment. Although rare, RA can inflame tissues and cause sudden symptoms such as chest or abdominal pain which need to be treated promptly. If you have any tingling, numbness or electrical shock in your upper extremities from moving your neck, it may indicate the bones of the upper spine that protect your spinal cord may be inflamed. Get immediate treatment.
- You play an important part in daily management of your disease. Learn all you can about this chronic disease so you can make knowledgeable decisions about your health care. Everyone experiences RA differently, so it is important for you to know your own symptoms and monitor them. No one, not even a doctor, can know how your disease affects you as well as you do.
- Rheumatoid arthritis can trigger anxiety and depression. It is important to learn some coping skills from your doctor for the physical and emotional effects of rheumatoid arthritis. Getting enough rest is also important to help with the fatigue it can cause. Lifestyle adjustments and stress reduction can help you deal with the ups and downs from this disease. Keeping a journal can help you figure out if something is triggering your symptoms.
- Gentle exercise and a nutritious diet can help with muscle strength and keeping your joints flexible. Remaining inactive is physically and emotionally not good for you. You will also lose strength and mobility. Being active, like swimming or bike riding, can help decrease pain and lift your spirits. Eating healthy can help you maintain a healthy weight and is good for your overall health. Yoga and meditation may also be helpful.
- Having supporting relationships with family and friends can help you cope with rheumatoid arthritis. Joining a support group can also give you a place to share your experiences and gain information about rheumatoid arthritis.
- There are drug treatments available. Discuss any prescription treatments thoroughly with your doctor before deciding if this is the right course.
- Other therapies can help relieve symptoms. Splints and braces can give the joints support. Hot and cold packs can alleviate pain, inflammation and help with muscle spasms. Getting in a pool or hot tub can help with relaxation and pain. Specialized shoes and neck collars can act to protect joints that are unstable. Crutches and pains can relieve stress on your weight-bearing joints.
- Surgery is also a possibility. There are several types of surgery that can be performed, such as replacement of hips, knees and shoulders. Damaged joints can also be replaced with an artificial joint. Fusion is sometimes recommended for the ankles and feet. Carpal tunnel surgery can relieve the nerve in the wrist.
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