Fremont Area Medical Center

SUM 2013

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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J O I N T H E A L T H Riding the ups & downs of rheumatoid arthritis By Susana Ramos Y SHUTTERSTOCK ou may think of arthritis as a disease for people in their golden years, but that's not always the case. Rheumatoid arthritis (also called RA) can strike at any age, and symptoms commonly start between the ages of 30 and 60 for women. Women are also at much higher risk for this chronic autoimmune disease that has no cure, but researchers have been making steady progress in refining treatments and keeping symptoms under better control. Here's a look at the latest advancements in treating RA. RA FROM A TO Z In people with RA, the body's immune system attacks its own tissues, including the synovium, or the lining of the joints. Once the synovium is inflamed, the joints can become swollen and painful. "Synovial fluid is to our joints what oil is to a car's engine," says Dr. Surayya Soares, who is a rheumatologist at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe in Grosse Pointe, Mich. "Oil lubricates the moving parts of an engine, and synovial fluid lubricates our joints, allowing us to move freely. When the synovial fluid is inflamed, we may experience pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints, especially in the hands and feet." Dr. Soares adds that fatigue can also be significant in people with RA. RA can be difficult to diagnose, however, because the symptoms tend to vary and can be more or less severe at any given time. It can also cause other conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and plantar fasciitis that may not appear to be RA symptoms. 6 symptoms COMMON RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS 1. Regular joint stiffness in the morning 2. Persistent joint pain that doesn't improve or gets worse 3. Swollen, red, hot or tender-to-the-touch joints 4. Joint pain with fever 5. Several joints affected by symptoms 6. Joint problems that interfere with your ability to move or function Source: Arthritis Foundation (continued on page 24) w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S U M M E R 2 013 SPI RIT O F WOM EN 17

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