What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

By Trent Ryan DC, DACNB, FACFN

RA (rheumatoid arthritis) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the joints in the body. It impacts the lining of the joints, causing swelling and, eventually, joint erosion. RA is an immune system disorder where the body attacks its own tissue. It usually rears its ugly head in the 40’s but sometimes sooner. The earlier RA is diagnosed and treated the less damage will occur to the joints in question.

Symptoms of RA

  • Fatigue
  • Joint Tenderness
  • Joint Swelling
  • Joint Redness
  • Joint Warmth
  • Joint Stiffness
  • Decreased Range of Motion
  • Limping
  • Joint Deformity


In order to diagnose RA, typically doctors first perform a physical exam to determine if the patient has the symptoms listed above. Based on the physical examination, if the doctor feels that the patient likely has RA they will recommend blood work and x-rays.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Medication can reduce joint inflammation and relieve the pain associated with RA. NSAIDs are the initial medication used to relieve the pain associated with RA.

Biologics: Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are biologic medications that target the specific part of the immune system that triggers the joint and tissue damage associated with RA. Biologic medication provides a targeted, defined and powerful impact on preventing progressive joint damage.

Injections: Injections include corticosteroids, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), stem cells & natural enzymes. These injections are subcutaneously injected into the affected joint. They are considered safe and not painful. Injections are used to block the messenger protein located in the joints that triggers the inflammation and pain associated with RA, to reduce inflammation, and to help increase range of motion in the joint.

Massage Therapy: Massage can relax muscular tension, reduce toxins in the body, and help relieve the pain associated with RA.

Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic adjustments help to realign the spine and help to reduce additional progression of RA. The best results are realized when a team including a doctor, a massage therapist and a chiropractor work together with the patient to relieve the symptoms associated with RA.

Dr. Trent Ryan is a Board Certified Functional Neurologist and Doctor of Chiropractic. His practice, Concord Medical Spine & Pain Center, is a rare and truly integrated facility offering state of the art pain management, physical medicine, massage, chiropractic, functional neurology, and physical rehabilitation services. Concord Medical Spine & Pain Center is located at 6 Sharpley Road in Wilmington. If you have a question, or for more information or for a free consultation, call them at 302-353-4811 or visit www.concordmedical.org.

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