Rheumatoid Arthritis specialist Perth

Rheumatoid Arthritis

When your GP mentions that you may have rheumatoid arthritis, they are referring to an overactive immune system, which normally works hard to make sure you don’t get any infections. In this case, it causes inflammation instead. As your Perth rheumatology clinic, we help you with an accurate diagnosis based on our long-standing experience in this area. We then work out the best treatment plan so we minimise the impact on your day-to-day life. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis Perth

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease of the immune system that causes inflammation in the joints and throughout your body. Your immune system helps keep your body healthy and fight off infections. However, in RA it is overactive and attacks the joint tissues and sometimes other organs. In RA, this results in pain and swelling especially of the small joints of the hands and feet, but may also affect larger joints such as your hips and knees as well as your neck. 

rheumatoid arthritis specialist Perth Dr Andrew Taylor

Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms | Rheumatologist Perth

What are the common symptoms and signs of rheumatoid arthritis?

The onset of RA may be sudden with one or many joints inflamed.

The symptoms of RA vary from person to person and include:

  • Joint pain, swelling, and tenderness to touch
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Pain, stiffness and swelling that is worse with rest, during the night and in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis | Rheumatologist Perth

How is rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed?

RA is diagnosed from your symptoms and signs and a physical examination is important.

Several tests may be required. These can include:

  • Blood tests for
    • Inflammation (ESR and C-reactive protein).
    • Antibodies such as rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP). The presence of either of these can help in the diagnosis and give important information about the potential severity of RA but are not required to diagnose RA.
  • Imaging
    • Ultrasound is a very helpful and sensitive means of demonstrating the presence of swelling and inflammation within the joints and whether any damage has occurred. This can be performed within a consultation at Murdoch Rheumatology.
    • X-rays may not show any changes from RA in its early stages but may identify damage in the joints that can occur with time.
    • MRI: Like ultrasound, this can show the inflamed joint tissue and damage from RA.

If RA is suspected or a diagnosis is made, it is important to see a rheumatologist.

Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment Perth

How is rheumatoid arthritis treated?

It is essential that RA is diagnosed early and that medical treatment with a rheumatologist is started as soon as possible. Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured.

The goal is to put arthritis into remission and prevent any damage to the joints or other organs.

Treatments comprise:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    These medicines help with the symptoms of pain, swelling and stiffness, but do not treat the disease and prevent damage in the joints occurring.
  • Corticosteroids (steroids)
    These may be given by tablet or injection into joints to help control the inflammation in joints.
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
    These are medicines that treat the areas of the immune system that are overactive and leading to Rheumatoid Arthritis. They may take 6-8 weeks to show any effect. If the conventional DMARDs (cDMARDs) are not sufficient antibody treatments (bDMARDS) or targeted therapies (tsDMARDs) will be considered. Once RA is diagnosed, it is important that these are started early.
  • Healthy diet
    Diet plays an important role in the management of RA. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (eg found in fish) and low in saturated fats is advised as RA is a whole-body illness and this form of diet is beneficial for general health and the immune system.
  • Exercise
    It goes without saying that exercise is vital to keep the joints moving and maintain muscle strength to support joints. Particular forms of beneficial exercise include swimming, hydrotherapy, yoga and pilates.

Murdoch Rheumatology for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Why Murdoch Rheumatology?

Murdoch Rheumatology provides a comprehensive service for rheumatoid arthritis that includes:

  • Experienced and skilled assessment for diagnosis
  • Ability to perform joint ultrasound with a consultation to aid in the diagnosis and also treatment monitoring
  • Knowledge and experience with the latest treatments
  • A desire to work with you to maximise your future health and minimise the impact of RA on your life.

You can count on Dr Andrew Taylor’s  professional expertise and broad experience in rheumatology, to work out the best possible treatment plan. This is about making sure that the impact on your quality of life is kept as minimal as possible, so you get to enjoy your day-to-day activities, family life or work.

murdoch rheumatology dr andrew taylor