The Rheumatology team is made up of a Physician and a Physician Assistant with specialized Rheumatology training. While striving to stay abreast of the latest advances in the medical management of Rheumatological and Auto-Immune disorders, the team’s goal is to limit and control the destruction of joints and immune system dysfunction while enhancing patient quality of life.
What is Rheumatology?
Rheumatology is the study of joints and the muscles, ligaments, and fibrous tissue surrounding joints.
What is the Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis?
Perhaps the most common condition treated by Kymera Rheumatologists is rheumatoid arthritis (formerly known as rheumatism). At one time, it was not uncommon to hear people speak of having rheumatism when in fact, they had osteoarthritis or even gout.
However, although rheumatism is a form of arthritis, it is not the only form. Other forms of arthritis include gout, ankylosing spondylitis, and osteoarthritis (OA). In fact, there are over 100 different types of arthritis, some of which often get confused with rheumatoid because often a Rheumatologist helps manage these as well.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis manifest similarly in that both involve inflammation and joint pain. The key difference between RA and OA is that osteoarthritis involves the loss of cartilage between joints in the body and rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks joints.
What is the Main Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused largely by the immune system fighting where it need not fight. It is a condition marked by an attack on healthy tissue without cause. What triggers this reaction is not yet known.
The immune system is supposed to create antibodies that attack viruses and bacteria in the body to fight infections. In RA, the body attacks healthy tissues surrounding joints which normally produce lubrication, causing them to become inflamed. The inflammation restricts lubrication, and the inflammation worsens while, at the same time, the lack of lubrication causes damage to cartilage and bone.
In turn, this causes more inflammation as the body attempts to protect and repair itself, which in turn causes more damage.
What are the First Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?
There are many initial signs of RA which patients initially experience. These include:
- Slight fever
- Weight loss
- Joint tenderness
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Joint redness
- Joint warmth
Does a Rheumatologist Treat Autoimmune Disorders?
Yes. Although he or she may consult with another internalist such as an Endocrinologist (in the case of Lupus), autoimmune disorders are best handled by your Kymera Rheumatologist. This is because most autoimmune disorders commonly cause inflammation, which is best handled in the rheumatology department.
What Sort of Tests do Rheumatologists Perform?
Your Kymera Rheumatologist will conduct a series of tests to determine what condition is causing the inflammation, pain, and discomfort. One of these may include checking CRP (C-Reactive Protein) levels.
High C-Reactive Protein levels indicate inflammation and are a starting point. Many specialists check the CRP levels because inflammation can occur in the arteries or result from a range of conditions, including cancer.
What should I Bring to my First Rheumatology Visit?
After scheduling your first Kymera Rheumatology visit, please prepare to bring the following:
- Previous lab test results
- Radiographic X-Ray results
- Results from any Ultrasound or MRIs performed
- Current medications list including specific dosages
- List of medication allergies
- Family history, especially if any relatives have ever been diagnosed with rheumatologic or autoimmune diseases
Are There Any Foods I Should Avoid if I have RA?
As with many conditions and diseases, persons living with Rheumatoid Arthritis can do much to alleviate symptoms through diet. There are some foods that are known to irritate the condition, so the better you can do at avoiding these, the better you will feel. Some of the foods to avoid with RA include:
- Refined Sugar and Flour – Refined sugar and refined flour contain simple carbohydrates that metabolize quickly. This will drive up blood sugar levels which cause the body to produce cytokines. Cytokines are pro-inflammation chemicals that can worsen symptoms. These foods can also cause weight to increase, which places added stress on joints.
- Red meat – We have all heard of the benefits of Omega-6 fatty acids, of which red meat is abundant. Few have heard that Omega-6 fatty acids can also contribute to inflammation when intake is high. We recommend lean cuts and moderation.
- Fried foods – A 2009 report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism drew attention to fried foods’ effect on the human body. It showed that these foods create toxins that can increase oxidation in the body and, subsequently, additional inflammation.
- Gluten – Gluten is a specialized protein found in grains like wheat or rye. Although not fully understood, evidence indicates that gluten can increase inflammation in some people, especially those with RA.
- Alcohol – It is long believed to be associated with increased inflammation in patients with RA, and recent studies indicate there is a balance to be found. Researchers have learned that moderate use of alcohol can be beneficial to patients suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Still, beyond a few glasses per week, the effects are reversed, and the condition worsens. Exercise care when consuming alcohol.
- Processed foods – Anything ready-to-eat with no cooking needed is said to be processed. Such foods contain high levels of refined sugar, along with saturated fats. These three are very detrimental to patients who have Rheumatoid arthritis, as already described above. Pay attention to what is put into processed foods.