Rheumatoid Arthritis

Jonah Medical Group

Family Practice & Internal Medicine Specialist located in Los Angeles, CA

Over 1.3 million Americans and an estimated 1% of the world’s population have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network. At Jonah Medical Group in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, skilled family medicine physician Dr. Edwin Choi knows how this chronic autoimmune disease can negatively impact the bones and tissues, other parts of the body, and day-to-day life. If you have rheumatoid arthritis or other health concerns, call or use the online scheduling tool to visit Dr. Choi.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Q & A

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that occurs when the tissue lining your joints – the synovial membrane — becomes thickened and inflamed, leading to a buildup of fluid and gradual erosion and degradation of the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is active when your immune system attacks your own body’s tissues by mistake and causes inflammation.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you might have:

  • Warm, tender, swollen joints
  • Fever, weight loss, and chronic fatigue
  • Joint stiffness that worsens following inactivity

The condition often starts in the smaller joints, such as the toes, feet, wrists, and hands, before spreading to other areas.

What are the complications of rheumatoid arthritis?

Severe rheumatoid arthritis can cause physical disabilities. This chronic inflammatory disorder can affect more than just your joints. There are a number of possible complications of rheumatoid arthritis, including damage to the:

  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Blood vessels
  • Kidneys
  • Salivary glands
  • Bone marrow
  • Nerve tissue

The symptoms can vary and appear in flares. Over time, the joints can shift out of place and deform.

Rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk for:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid nodules
  • Infection
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Abnormal body composition
  • Heart problems
  • Lung disease
  • Lymphoma

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis isn’t definitive, and a number of risk factors might be at play, such as:

  • Aging
  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Being female
  • Genetics
  • Viruses and bacteria
  • Environmental exposure to asbestos or silica

The condition is more common in women than men.

What are the treatments for rheumatoid arthritis?

After obtaining a diagnosis through methods such as bloodwork and imaging tests, a physical exam, and an in-depth consultation, Dr. Choi devises your individualized treatment plan to help you manage and control your condition.

Depending on your individual case, Dr. Choi might recommend a variety of treatment options, including:

  • Steroids
  • Biologic agents
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitative exercise
  • Assistive devices, such as buttonhooks
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS)
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic medications (DMARDS)

In cases of joint deformity and severe joint damage, Dr. Choi might recommend referral to a surgeon to repair or replace your joints. At home, you could also try hot and cold packs, and relaxation and stretching techniques.

For compassionate care and help managing your rheumatoid arthritis, call or click to visit Dr. Choi.