Rheumatoid arthritis treatment

As there is presently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, treatment aims to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and slow joint damage. The disease may vary from person to person, and developing an individual treatment plan is important. Clinical evidence suggests that early diagnosis of arthritis and prompt treatment can alter the disease process, improve quality of life and extend longevity. Once the disease becomes more aggressive, it is more difficult to manage and treat.

Rheumatoid arthritis treatmentMedications

Drugs which can be used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which cut down inflammation. Penicillamine, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine, methotrexate and azathioprine may also be used. Gold is sometimes used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and recent research suggests that long-term wearing of gold rings slows progression of the disease in the joints near the rings. In severe cases, powerful corticosteroids may be given. These drugs are related to cortisone, a natural hormone produced by the human body. Unfortunately, their effectiveness declines over time and they have several undesirable side effects if they are used for long periods, including immune suppression and osteoporosis. New genetically engineered drugs which affect the inflammatory immune response may soon become available.

Lifestyle measuresfor rheumatoid arthritis treatment

A balanced mixture of rest and exercise is important in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis; rest being important during periods when the disease flares up and exercise when it is not so severe. Stretching and heat treatments can make exercises easier.

Rheumatoid arthritis treatmentIn a study reported at the 1996 American College Of Rheumatology meeting, moderate exercise performed for a total of three hours over a six-week period substantially reduced joint stiffness in adults with rheumatoid arthritis. Obesity aggravates the symptoms of arthritis and weight loss can often bring improvement. See also Rheumatoid arthritis diet.

There are various devices such as joint splints, gloves and orthopedic shoes which can help to relieve symptoms and help patients to perform activities necessary for daily life. Stress relief and pain management techniques may also be valuable in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. A 1995 study involving 141 rheumatoid arthritis patients showed that those who underwent special stress management counselling had better coping skills, felt less helpless, reported less pain and had greater mobility several months later than patients who either attended an education program or had no counselling at all.

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