Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)


What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a type of autoimmune disease. – Having this kind of condition means that a person’s immune system fails to recognize the difference between foreign cells and the body’s own cells. Normally, our immune system guards us against germs like bacteria and viruses; When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes some parts of the body – such as joints and skin – as foreign, releasing autoantibodies that attacks the healthy cells.

In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints. – This results to an inflammation and deterioration of the joints and all its functions. Unlike osteoarthritis that occurs at specific and localized joints, rheumatoid arthritis can occur in any joint of the body. The signs and symptoms of this condition can affect different joints simultaneously as well. Aside from this, it can also damage the tissue and organs surrounding the affected joints.

Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA is a chronic disease that has symptoms which can occur during periods known as flares – sudden or unpredictable episodes – and other times signs may disappear completely. Some of the indications of Rheumatoid Arthritis are as follows:

  • Intense pain in the joints that come and go. Sometimes it lasts more than an hour.
  • Chronic inflammation and joint stiffness.
  • Symmetrical pattern of inflammation – This means that joints on both the left and right-hand side of the body experience aches and inflammation.
  • Loss of joint function – This makes it difficult for the person to conduct daily tasks such as opening door knobs.
  • General feeling of uneasiness.
  • Fever and fatigue.

How can we accurately diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis may resemble other forms of inflammatory arthritis during its early stages. This is why no single test can confirm if a person is suffering from RA. To ensure proper diagnosis, our resident rheumatologist, A/Prof Leong Keng Hong, will conduct a series of physical exams and diagnostic tests. He may also ask about personal and family medical history to better assess your condition. Below are examples of how we diagnose RA in our patients:

  • Physical Exam

    Each joint in your body will be examined to see if there is swelling or tenderness as well as painful and limited movement. The physical exam may also show other RA indications such as rheumatoid nodules or fever.

  • Blood Tests

    Blood tests allows our arthritis specialist to identify if the antibody (Rheumatoid Factor) responsible for the immune system attacking and killing normal, healthy, and functional cells is present. Blood tests also allow us to check the presence of inflammation that may be affecting not just the joints but also other organs near the affected area.

  • Imaging Tests

    We conduct a series of x-rays to look for joint damage and the rate of cartilage degradation. Even when the imaging tests don’t show signs of joint damage, RA is still not ruled out since this may indicate that the disease is still in an early stage.

If Rheumatoid Arthritis is left untreated during the early stages, this disease could bring devastating effects that can greatly compromise your lifestyle. Some of the biggest risk factors are as follows:

  • Damage and rupture muscle tendons, leading to the loss of function of a particular muscle and limb.
  • Immobility
  • Severe damage to the cartilage and bones.
  • Bone deformity

The symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis can vary from mild to severe. This is why it is important not to ignore early signs of this condition even if it just comes and goes. If you think you may be suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, schedule a consultation with our Rheumatologist A/Prof Leong Keng Hong today.

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Leong Keng Hong Arthritis and Medical Clinic
6 Napier Road #04-18
Gleneagles Medical Centre
Singapore 258499

Tel: (65) 6472 4337
Fax: (65) 6472 0691
Email: info@leongkenghong.com
Operating Hours:

Monday to Saturday: 9 am to 12.30pm
Monday to Friday: 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Close on Sunday & PH
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