Rheumatoid disorders affect millions of Americans, often interfering with activities of daily life. Early treatment is important – and that’s getting a little easier for patients in Keizer and surrounding areas, due to new practices that have opened recently.
Dr. Raymond Hausch is a rheumatologist who recently returned to the Willamette Valley after practicing for a time in the Midwest. Because patient education is an important part of any care plan, he offered the following information about symptoms and treatment.
What are rheumatic disorders and who do they affect?
Dr. Hausch: There are more than 100 different diseases that affect bones, joints, muscles and connective tissue. These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout, scleroderma, and many others.
A common myth is that these diseases affect only older people or only women – but that’s not the case. Rheumatic disorders occur at all stages of life, including childhood. They affect people regardless of gender or race.
What are some common symptoms?
Dr. Hausch: There are many types of rheumatic disorders, so symptoms vary. But it’s wise to stay alert to the following signs.
Blurry vision or eye pain can also be a symptom, as can a rash or scaly skin, or widespread muscle aches. That’s because some disorders—such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA)—are autoimmune diseases, potentially affecting the whole body. In contrast, osteoarthritis (OA) is typically focused on specific joints.
What should patients do if they have these symptoms?
Dr. Hausch: The first step is to talk with your primary care doctor. Depending on your symptoms, she or he may refer you to a rheumatologist.
Nationally, the need for care has far outpaced the number of rheumatologists. Historically, that’s been a concern in the Willamette Valley as well. But that situation is improving, due to an increased number of rheumatologists who are seeing new patients.
How are rheumatic disorders treated?
Dr. Hausch: Given the large number of rheumatic disorders, treatment varies considerably. There is a wide range of effective medicines, including some new therapeutics, so it’s important to see a rheumatologist who offers the latest treatments.
Fundamentals, like eating a healthy diet and maintaining a good body weight, are always important. Exercise, such as yoga or light stretching, is sometimes recommended. Your caregiver will come up with a plan that’s right for you.
EARLY TREATMENT OFFERS HOPE
Untreated, rheumatic diseases can be debilitating. But studies have shown that early treatment can help prevent damage to joints and other organs.
Dr. Hausch, who recently joined Oregon Rheumatology Specialists in Salem, said returning to the Willamette Valley has allowed him to reconnect with past patients and see new ones as well. “The most satisfying part of this work is helping people lead active, normal lives,” he said.
For more information about rheumatology and Oregon Rheumatology Specialists please visit oregonrheumatologyspecialists.com or call 503-485-0350.