Rheumatoid Arthritis: Perspective on Effective Diagnosis and Disease Management
Clark, John W.
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Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the lining of joints causing warmth, swelling, and pain in the joint. It affects almost I percent of the United States population, and affects people world wide. It's cause is still being intensely researched and possibilities are focused on a genetic, viral, or bacterial basis. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are centered around the inflamed joints, but this inflammatory disease can also manifest itself through loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia, or visibly through protruding rheumatoid nodules. Symptoms may appear progressive, or they may be mild with periods of increased inflammation and pain, called flares. Treatments need to be assessed by investigating the indications, efficacy, costs, and side effects. Rheumatologists and primary care physicians need to be aware of the symptoms, causes, and treatments when making the clinical diagnosis. Physical findings based on joint examinations, radiographic findings based on x-rays, and laboratory findings based on laboratory tests, will allow the health care provider to fully diagnose the disease as rheumatoid arthritis. A management plan to control the progress of the disease is crucial to effectively maintain the patient's well being. After the diagnosis has been made, an initial treatment plan will be implemented to address the patient's perspective, and to weigh the options of treatment, and review the prognosis. Next, a treatment regimen will be formed to comply with the patient's pathogenic needs and the patient's preferences. Finally, a close monitor of the patient's disease is necessary to control the disease, and to implement different methods of treatment if necessary.