Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment in NJ, CT, and Md

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition characterized by joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. At Regional Cancer Care Associates, patients with rheumatoid arthritis can receive infusion therapy services to help mitigate their symptoms and improve joint function. Regional Cancer Care Associates serves patients throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

A person’s immune system protects him or her from disease and infection by attacking viruses and bacteria that can affect the body. When a person has an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the lining of the joints. People can experience rheumatoid arthritis in any joint, but it most commonly presents in the finger, wrist, and ankle joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause long-term damage to the bone, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the joints.

There are two main types of rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Seropositive: Patients with this type of RA have high levels of antibodies called anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCPs). These antibodies target and attack otherwise healthy tissue.
  • Seronegative: Patients with seronegative RA don’t have anti-CCPs in their blood.

therapies offered

Note: Many health plans require the use of biosimilar medications, which are medications that have the same effect and the same structure as the originally prescribed drug (similar to a generic drug) but are less costly. 

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The signs and symptoms of RA vary in severity from patient to patient. Many individuals with rheumatoid arthritis experience intermittent flares of increased symptoms, followed by periods of remission. Symptoms can include:

  • Pain, swelling, and tenderness in the joints
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint stiffness after sitting for long periods or upon waking up
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Some patients with rheumatoid arthritis may experience long periods of remission. For example, female patients with RA often go into remission during pregnancy. Because joint damage often occurs within the first two years of the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, it is important for patients who experience one or more of the symptoms listed above to consult with their primary care physician. If a primary care provider suspects or determines that a patient has RA, the patient typically will be referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the immune system, muscles, bones, and joints.

Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis

While researchers continue to explore the causes of rheumatoid arthritis, certain genetic and lifestyle factors may increase a person’s risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Inherited traits: People born with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II genotypes are are at elevated risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis. That is because this gene variation may make it more difficult for the body to distinguish between regular proteins in the body and harmful bacteria or viruses.
  • Sex: Rates of rheumatoid arthritis are higher among women than they are in men – according to the Cleveland Clinic, RA is 2.5 times more common among female patients than male patients.
  • Age: The likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis increases as a person grows older.
  • Smoking: Patients who smoke cigarettes are at higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis than non-smokers. Smoking can also make RA symptoms worse.
  • Obesity: Patients who are obese may be at increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Early life exposures: Preliminary research indicates that certain childhood events, such as exposure to secondhand smoke, may increase a person’s risk of developing RA as an adult.
  • History of live births:Female patients who have never given birth may be at greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who have delivered one or more babies.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Rheumatoid ArthritiS

Rheumatoid arthritis typically is diagnosed through a combination of a physical exam, review of a patient’s medical history and symptoms, and imaging and lab tests. These tests can include:

  • Blood tests: A physician can order blood tests to look for certain antibodies that might indicate rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Imaging tests: X-rays, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to check for damage and inflammation to the patient’s bones and joints.
  • Joint count: Typically conducted as part of a physical exam, a joint count allows a physician to check each of a patient’s joints for pain, stiffness, and swelling, and helps rule out more common conditions, such as osteoarthritis.
  • Joint aspiration: This test involves using a needle to draw a fluid sample from a patient’s joint to test for infections or other conditions.
  • Nodule biopsy: A biopsy may be obtained to check tissue samples for cancer or other conditions that can cause symptoms similar to those of RA.

While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, treatments can help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Treatment plans will vary based on a patient’s overall health and other underlying conditions, but may include:

  • Medication: Anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids can help decrease pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy: Some physicians recommend physical therapy to help increase muscle strength around the affected joints and improve their range of motion.
  • Surgery: Advanced rheumatoid arthritis can lead to joint deformity. Joint replacement or joint fusion surgery can help correct severe joint deformities that inhibit patient function, although they cannot prevent RA symptoms from progressing.

Certain lifestyle changes also can help mitigate the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in regular moderate exercise. Patients may need to rest more often to reduce stress on their joints. Or they may benefit from the use of assistive devices, such as a cane, walker, or splints.

Infusion Therapy at Regional Cancer Care Associates

Infusion therapy is an alternative to taking oral medications for rheumatoid arthritis. Infusion services deliver biologic medications intravenously under the supervision of a medical professional. Regional Cancer Care Associates offers infusion therapy for patients with autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, as well as for cancer and other chronic conditions.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may be eligible to receive infusion services in their home, at a hospital, or at one of Regional Cancer Care Associates’ community-based care locations. The providers at Regional Cancer Care Associates will walk each patient through the infusion therapy process, provide background information on the patient’s condition and potential side effects of a medication, and monitor the patient throughout treatment.

Regional Cancer Care Associates has extensive experience administering infusion therapy and treats tens of thousands of patients every year. We provide a calm and welcoming environment to help each patient feel comfortable throughout treatment. The medical staff at Regional Cancer Care Associates will work with each patient and his or her referring healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan and infusion schedule that suits the patient’s needs.

Obtain Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment in NJ, CT, & MD

Patients dealing with rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases can find expert, compassionate care at Regional Cancer Care Associates. The medical team has extensive experience in administering intravenous (IV) medications, and provides treatment and patient counseling and education at 25 locations throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area. In addition to administering infusions for autoimmune diseases, Regional Cancer Care Associates serves patients with blood disorders and many different types of cancer. To learn more, call Regional Cancer Care Associates at 844-474-6866 or contact us online.

CONVENIENT LOCATIONS IN New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, DC area

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (844) 474-6866. You can also schedule an appointment by calling the RCCA location nearest you.