Rheumatoid arthritis treatment has come a long way, and many different therapies are now available for this chronic, painful disease – from common painkillers and anti-inflammatories to recently discovered immune-system modulators. Find out everything you should know about easing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis…
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. It occurs when the immune system, which normally defends the body from invading organisms, turns its attack against the membrane lining the joints.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can range from mild to severe. In most cases the condition is chronic, meaning it lasts a long time – often a lifetime. For many people, periods of relatively mild disease activity are punctuated by flares, or times of heightened symptoms. In others, symptoms are constant.
Doctors use a variety of approaches to rheumatoid arthritis treatment. These are administered in different combinations and times during the course of the disease, and are chosen according to the patient’s individual situation.
No matter what treatment the doctor and patient choose, the goals are the same: to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, slow down or stop joint damage, and improve the person’s sense of well-being and ability to function.
Good communication between the patient and doctor is necessary for effective rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Talking to the doctor can help ensure that exercise and pain management programs are provided as needed, and that drugs are prescribed appropriately. A doctor can also help make decisions about surgery.
Here are the most current and effective therapies for rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis treatment #1: Lifestyle and behavior change
Certain activities can help improve your ability to function independently and maintain a positive outlook.
Rest and exercise: People with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis need a good balance between rest and exercise, with more rest when the disease is active and more exercise when it isn’t. Rest helps reduce active joint inflammation and pain, and fight fatigue.
The length of time for rest will vary from person to person, but in general, shorter rest breaks every now and then are more helpful than long times spent in bed.
Exercise is important for maintaining healthy and strong muscles, preserving joint mobility and maintaining flexibility. Exercise can also help you sleep well, reduce pain, maintain a positive attitude and lose weight.
When choosing an exercise program, take into account your physical abilities, limitations and changing needs.
Joint care:Some people find that using a splint for a short time around a painful joint reduces pain and swelling by supporting the joint and letting it rest. Splints are used mostly on wrists and hands, but also on ankles and feet.
A doctor or a physical or occupational therapist can help you choose a splint and make sure it fits properly.
Other ways to reduce stress on joints include self-help devices (for example, zipper pullers or long-handled shoe horns); devices to help with getting on and off chairs, toilet seats, and beds; and finding easier ways to carry out daily activities.