COMPREHENSIVE
RHEUMATOLOGY CARE

Enjoy Life By Overcoming Arthritis

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Arif Shahzad, MD

BOARD CERTIFIED RHEUMATOLOGIST

AchyJoint specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and comprehensive care of inflammatory arthritis and systemic autoimmune disease. Common autoimmune disorders include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, vasculitis, sarcoidosis, and myositis.

Our team includes Dr. Arif Shahzad, board-certified and fellowship trained rheumatologist. Dr. Shahzad's mission is to utilize a holistic approach while implementing evidence based medicine towards acheiving the goal of remission, improved function, and pain free state.

Dr. Shahzad is accepting new patient's. At your first visit, please bring a list of symptoms you are experiencing, recent blood work, xray reports, and current medication list.



My ANA Test Is Positive; What Does This Mean?

A positive ANA test means autoantibodies are present. By itself, a positive ANA test does not indicate the presence of an autoimmune disease or the need for therapy.

The immune system makes an abundance of proteins called antibodies. Antibodies are made by white blood cells (B cells). The antibodies recognize and combat infectious organisms (germs) in the body. Antibodies develop in our immune system to help the body fight infectious organisms. When an antibody recognizes the foreign proteins of an infectious organism, it recruits other proteins and cells to fight off the infection. This cascade of attack is called inflammation.

Sometimes these antibodies make a mistake, identifying normal, naturally-occurring proteins in our bodies as being foreign and dangerous. When these antibodies make incorrect calls, identifying a naturally-occurring protein (or self protein) as foreign, they are called autoantibodies. Autoantibodies start the cascade of inflammation, causing the body to attack itself. The antibodies that target normal proteins within the nucleus of a cell are called antinuclear antibodies (ANA). Most of us have autoantibodies, but typically in small amounts. The presence of large amount of autoantibodies or ANAs can indicate an autoimmune disease. ANAs could signal the body to begin attacking itself which can lead to autoimmune diseases, including lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren syndrome, polymyositis/dermatomyositis, mixed connective tissue disease, drug-induced lupus, and autoimmune hepatitis. A positive ANA can also be seen in juvenile arthritis.

Source: American College of Rheumatology

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis. It is triggered by a faulty immune system (the body's defense system) and affects the wrist and small joints of the hand, including the knuckles and the middle joints of the fingers.

People have long feared rheumatoid arthritis (commonly called RA) as one of the most disabling types of arthritis. The good news is that the outlook has greatly improved for many people with newly diagnosed RA. Of course, RA remains a serious disease, and one that can vary widely in symptoms (what you feel) and outcomes. Even so, treatment advances have made it possible to stop or at least slow the progression (worsening) of joint damage. Rheumatologists now have many new treatments that target the inflammation that RA causes. They also understand better when and how to use treatments to get the best effects.

The best treatment of RA needs more than medicines alone. Patient education, such as how to cope with RA, also is important. Proper care requires the expertise of a team of providers, including rheumatologists, primary care physicians, and physical and occupational therapists. You will need frequent visits through the year with your rheumatologist. These checkups let your doctor track the course of your disease and check for any side effects of your medications. You likely also will need to repeat blood tests and X-rays or ultrasounds from time to time.

Source: American College of Rheumatology