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Living with arthritis?

October 12, 2022

Living with arthritis? - featured image

Dr. Neeta Patel sheds more light on this often misunderstood disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory arthritis which if not recognised or treated early can lead to established deformities and disability.

Following the ‘treat to target ‘approach can lead to early diagnosis and remission with resultant improvement in function, says Dr. Neeta Patel, specialist physician and rheumatologist at Busamed Gateway Private Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr. Patel treats both acute and complex chronic rheumatic diseases and favours holistic health care principles into her patient management plan.

She says there is sufficient scientific evidence that shows the link between gut health and arthritis. “The microbiome balance, which refers to the microorganisms living in your digestive tract, can have a tremendous impact on the stability of your immune system.”

This impact can either worsen or alleviate symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Dr. Patels adds that the “microbiome-arthritis connection” is directly correlated to inflammation.

“My patients are advised to incorporate lifestyle changes into their long-term arthritis management plan. This includes formulating a healthy ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet, optimising their exercise programmes and paying attention to their mental wellness.”

According to the Arthritis Foundation, data shows that rates of depression and anxiety in people with arthritis-related diseases can be between two and 10 times greater than the rates in the general population, depending on the type of arthritis.

Dr. Patel says there is a definite link between pain and depression and immobility and depression. “Arthritis and chronic pain tend to cause functional limitations in patients. Chronic fatigue and loss of physical function worsens depression, and this becomes a vicious cycle. Support from allied health professionals such as a physiotherapist, occupational therapists, bio kineticists, psychologists etc. as well as the understanding and support from family members is the key to recovery and achieving wellness holistically.

She says support teams are vital to living with arthritis or any inflammatory disease. It begins with a good physician who is empathetic to the condition and extends to friends, family and peers.

Dr. Patel says there are several mobile apps that can help patients document and manage their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. These include RheumaTrack, which was designed by rheumatologists, and Track + React was developed by the Arthritis Foundation to help record a patient’s food, exercise, sleep times, medication and pain levels.

Her practice also treats systemic lupus erythematosus, Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile arthritis and arthritis in association with HIV infection.

Dr. Neeta Patel

Dr. Neeta Patel

Specialist Physician and Rheumatologist

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