Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease which affects multiple systems in the body, and is due to an autoimmune response. It is of unknown cause, and usually affects females over the age of 40. In the musculoskeletal system, it causes inflammation and joint destruction, leading to pain, swollen joints, stiffness and deformity. It usually affects the small joints of the hands and feet, before affecting the shoulders and knees.
Rheumatoid arthritis is managed in a multi-disciplinary team made up of your GP, rheumatologist, orthopaedic surgeon, allied health (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, orthotist), and various other medical specialists as required. The mainstay of treatment is early and aggressive anti-rheumatic medications called DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs). Occasionally corticosteroid injections are administered to affected joints during ‘flareups’.
If a joint has become significantly destroyed by rheumatoid arthritis or a similar inflammatory arthritis, and it is causing ongoing impaired function or pain, then Dr Yu may recommend surgery. The type of operation depends on the joint(s) involved, and the condition of the bone and surrounding soft tissues. Before any surgery, an anaesthetic and general medical review will be performed to ensure the operation is performed safely.
Do you have an upper limb problem?
Contact our team to find out more.