WICHITA FALLS, TX–Imagine over time your hands twisting, swelling, aching and becoming near impossible to use. This is what happens to around 1.3 million people in the U.S. living with rheumatoid arthritis.
Hanging on the office wall of United Regional Rheumatologist, Dr. Vanya Wagler is a beautiful scenescape painted by french impressionist, Pierre Auguste Renior. An artist, who for years suffered with the very same debilitating disease Dr. Wagler tries so hard to help patients manage.
According to Dr. Wagler, RA is more commonly found in females, particularly middle aged women. He says they also see many older men and women with about equal rates of rheumatoid arthritis.
RA is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, meaning the immune system attacks healthy cells and causes painful swelling in not only the hands but all parts of the body.
This disease, while painful and debilitating, can be managed with the right help.
“We don’t have a cure for it,” says Dr. Wagler, “but the good news is we have some really great treatments that have changed the course of the disease. Treatments we use are immunosuppressive medicines the decrease the inflammation, decrease the damage from that inflammation, and so we’re talking about medication like Methotrexate. There’s also biological medicines.”
According to Dr. Wagler, these types of medicines are also great alternatives to addictive medications like opioids, which only treat the symptoms and not the source of inflammation.
“We find that when the arthritis and inflammation is treated effectively with arthritis medicine that generally the pain and the symptoms dramatically improve as well,” says Dr. Wagler.
For more on Dr. Wagler and the rhuematology services at United Regional, click here.