Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be a debilitating disease. It is an autoimmune disease which causes joints to become inflamed, swollen, stiff and painful. In its advanced stages, fingers and toes, especially, often are nearly unusable and appear gnarled, misshapen, and swollen. Since the disease does not have a known cure at this time, the goals of treatment are to control the symptoms of RA and slow/stop its further progression. The treatment for rheumatoid arthritis varies on the severity of the symptoms and the advancement of the disease.

Several of the basic daily tips for managing rheumatoid arthritis are important for all people, but for those with RA they are especially so. Eating healthy foods and getting restful sleep is important to fuel every body, as is getting regular exercise. While joint pain may well tempt RA patients to sidestep exercise, doing so is a terrible mistake. People who regularly exercise often report a reduction in the overall pain inflicted by the disease and also experience improved functionality. This allows individuals to rely less on others for help, helps to maintain strong muscles and bones, and even boosts self-image and coping abilities. With all of these benefits from exercise it is no surprise that people who do it, live longer, more fulfilling lives, RA or not!

Steroid injections or pills during RA flare-ups or for individuals with severe RA symptoms may be recommended to ease the pain and immobility of effected joints. While steroids are rarely used as a long-term treatment, it is important to note that when used in this way their use can contribute to high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and diabetes, read more Slimquick Pure.

While occupational or physical therapy to maintain and facilitate movement and/or surgery to replace severely impacted joints may be part of a patient's treatment plan at some point, nearly all individuals will take some sort of prescription medication aimed at slowing joint degeneration. There are several classes of drugs often used to treat various aspects of rheumatoid arthritis: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologics, and steroids.

NSAIDs are rarely used alone in treatment. These drugs are meant to be a pain and inflammation management tool, not something which will ultimately inhibit the disease's progression. While over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium may be taken, most patients need stronger prescription doses. While effective at reducing the symptoms of RA, these drugs may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and stomach issues like ulcers and bleeding.

DMARDs like methotrexate, Arava, Cytoxan, Imuran, Neoral, and Plaquenil do slow or stop the disease by suppressing the immune system that has targeted joints as trouble spots. Drugs do not work in isolation, however, and are unable to target only specific areas of the body, so the immune system overall is suppressed. While this helps slow down RA, it also slows the system which protects you against other viruses and infections.

The newest drug treatments for RA to appear on the market are known as biologics and are genetically engineered proteins which seek out and inhibit the inflammation-causing components of the immune system. While success has been reported for their work against rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, the overall immune system is once again suppressed, as by the DMARDs. Consequently, serious infections are highly likely.

Care to weigh the pros and cons of each symptom against the potential side effects of treatment is important before entering into any program.