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Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

From the Show: Wellness for Life
Summary: Rheumatoid arthritis can limit activity due to inflammation. Find out more about how to live with rheumatoid arthritis.
Air Date: 2/17/17
Duration: 25:46
Host: Susanne Bennett, DC
Guest Bio: Ara Dikranian, MD
Dr Ara DikranianDr. Ara Dikranian recently joined the Cabrillo Center for Rheumatic Disease. Prior, he worked as a Senior Rheumatologist at the San Diego Arthritis Medical Clinic (SDAMC). Dr. Ara Dikranianjoined SDAMC in 2004. “Dr. D,” as he is known to his patients, comes from a long family line of health care providers, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and two uncles. His enthusiasm, compassion and love for rheumatology are greater today than ever before.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in psychobiology in 1991 and his medical degree in 1995, both from the University of Southern California. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine, and fellowship in rheumatology, at the University of California, San Diego between 1995 and 2000, when he received his rheumatology board certification. Today, he calls SDAMC home and he's part of the Sharp network of recommended physicians. He is the current chair of the Arthritis Foundation San Diego chapter advisory board. He volunteers his time for uninsured patients through the San Diego County Medical Association Foundation Project Access program. He has been honored by being named Arthritis Foundation Community Outreach Volunteer of the Year in 2011. He is a speaker for and advisor to various pharmaceutical companies. He has participated in over 100 clinical research studies that have helped develop many of our current therapeutics for various rheumatologic conditions.
Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of autoimmune arthritis. It affects more than just joints. You can see RA in the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. The immune system attacks healthy tissues, resulting in stiffness and swelling in the body.

About 1.5 to 2 million people suffer from RA in the United States.

The arthritis diagnosis is usually a clinical one. The doctor would look for symmetry in joint inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects both sides equally. As it progresses it can be noticed in the hands, wrists, and any joints from the shoulders down the body. Blood markers are also sought. Ultrasounds and MRIs can help with diagnosis as well.

People are born with a genetic predisposition for RA. An environmental trigger will turn on the RA genes. It can take years for RA symptoms to be noticed. More research needs to be done to determine what bacteria can trigger inflammation and autoimmune conditions.

Relationships & Rheumatoid Arthritis
It is important to bring your spouse or significant other when you receive your diagnosis. It helps to know how the disease may affect daily life. There may be misunderstandings surrounding expected activity levels, not knowing what the RA patient may be physically experiencing.

The disease will take a toll on the RA patient’s ability to live a normal life. Depression, lack of sleep, pain, anxiety and fatigue can limit what the RA patient can do.

Rheumatoid arthritic patients have to acclimate to a new normal, finding physical activities that can be done to strengthen, support and help the body maintain and improve the structure affected by the condition.

Listen as Dr. Ara Dikranian joins Dr. Susanne Bennett to discuss rheumatoid arthritis.