Rheumatoid Arthritis, also commonly known as RA, is a chronic inflammatory immune disease that primarily affects the joints, but can also present with swelling or complications in other parts of the body. It occurs when the immune system mistakes the body's own tissues as foreign invaders, and attacks them. This attack by the immune system leads to swelling, pain, tenderness, and warmth in joints, and in 40% of cases results in other body-wide issues.
Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment options are wide ranging. There is no actual cure for the disease, so all treatments are aimed at slowing the disease's progress, increasing a patient's quality of life, and easing the symptoms associated with RA. Today we will take a look at some of the most common Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment options.
Medications – Prescription & Over The Counter
Medications are one of the most common Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment options used. There are several different forms of medications available, each with it's own unique purpose.
NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and naproxen, are commonly used in either prescription strength or over the counter varieties to help ease pain and reduce swelling. Steroids may also be prescribed to decrease the amount of swelling in the joints. Since the swelling is the primary cause of pain, steroids have also been shown useful in pain management.
Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) may be used to slow RA's progress, relieve joint pain, and ease morning stiffness.
Biological treatments may be used as they work with the immune system to target the specific cause of inflammation as seen in Rheumatoid Arthritis. These treatments can help to prevent any further damage from occurring.
Therapies – Physical, Occupational, & Cognitive
Numerous forms of therapy are also viable Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment options. Physical therapy can be used to help lessen pain, improve mobility, and build stronger muscles to better support joints. Occupational therapy revolves primarily on teaching a patient how to live with RA, as it pertains to their personal circumstances. Cognitive therapy has shown to be useful due to the high incidences of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders in patients with chronic long-term illnesses.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. Surgery may include the complete replacement of joints, which works well for larger joints such as the hips or knees. Smaller joints, such as those in the wrists or ankles, do not respond well to replacements. For this reason, surgeries called joint fusions are often used instead.
Natural Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options
There are also several natural Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment options that you can use at home to help ease your pain and discomfort. These include:
- Exercise, to maintain flexibility in joints
- Hot & Cold Therapy, to ease swelling and loosen tight muscles
- Turmeric, which contains a chemical called curcumin shown to ease arthritic pain
- Massage, which decrease pain and increases blood flow in affected areas
- Aromatherapy, which alters the way your mind perceives pain, and eases stress
- Ginger, which can mimic the effects of NSAIDs by curbing pain causing chemicals