Receiving a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may have been overwhelming. But finding and maintaining a treatment regimen can be even more so. There’s so much information out there to sift through. Let us walk you through some options available so you can choose the best treatment for you.
Unfortunately, at this time, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Patients are advised to undergo regular treatments to alleviate painful symptoms and prevent further deterioration of their joints. Left untreated, arthritis can do severe long-term damage to your body.
So what treatments are available? Read on for a summary of your options, including medication, physical therapy, and surgery.
The first and most obvious choice for patients with rheumatoid arthritis is medication. Again, while arthritis cannot be cured, many medications available today help patients find relief and combat long-term damage. Drugs come in several forms and classes, all with their own strengths and benefits.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce pain and inflammation by blocking your body’s natural response to arthritis. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) work similarly to NSAIDs. But they suppress the entirety of your immune system, which can lead to complications in other vulnerable areas of the body.
Fortunately, the subclass of DMARDs known as biological response modifiers (BRMs) are designed to be more targeted and less disruptive in their execution. And then there are corticosteroids, powerful medications that provide pain relief for short-term periods, making them particularly useful for flare-ups.
Consult your physician or speciality care pharmacy when deciding which medication is best for you.
Many rheumatoid arthritis patients, especially those with advanced symptoms and joint damage, find it difficult to move or get around without pain. Physical therapy may be a great way to alleviate symptoms and prevent further damage while also learning how to get around better.
A licensed physical therapist will guide you in creating a program to increase strength, flexibility, and mobility. The program will push you and stretch your abilities, but an experienced therapist will ensure that it is custom-tailored to the patient’s needs. Exercises include walking, water aerobics, or cycling.
As stated, rheumatoid arthritis can wreak havoc on joints if left untreated. At some point, a patient with advanced arthritic symptoms may find that their pain is constant and that they have lost mobility in their hands, hips, or knees.
These cases are beyond the help of medication, so physicians may recommend surgery to repair or replace the affected joints. Because of the invasive nature of the surgery, it’s typically recommended that this be done as a last resort. This highlights the importance of regular medication or physical therapy, which will help to prevent the deterioration of affected joints.
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis goes beyond medications and surgeries. To be truly holistic in your approach and have a better chance of reducing joint stiffness, you’ll need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Let’s look at some things you can do every day to help you live more comfortably with rheumatoid arthritis.
Physical Activity and Exercise
Staying limber and strengthening your muscles is a great way to ward off the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise is known to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and promote weight loss. Not only that, but it keeps your joints from seizing up and becoming immobile.
Thirty minutes or more of physical activity every day in the form of walking, jogging, swimming, or some other active sport can keep your joints in their best shape.
Losing weight can be a great way to decrease the strain on your joints and muscles. Moreover, it will reduce the proteins that cause inflammation. Healthy weight loss starts with a diet plan and regular exercise. Set a goal for yourself and begin working toward it today!
Not surprisingly, elevated stress levels have been known to manifest as aches, pains, and discomfort in the body. Holding on to stress can actually cause a flare-up in your rheumatoid arthritis. Practice releasing stress at the end of every day. Activities such as yoga, meditation, breathing, and listening to music will help you relax and unwind.
In a similar vein, mental health can have a severe impact on your overall physical health if left unchecked. After finding out that you have a chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis, it’s only natural to feel nervous, anxious, or hopeless about your situation.
In fact, arthritic inflammation may be linked to an increased probability of depression. But patients often find that learning to treat their rheumatoid arthritis helps ease their fears and worries. Knowledge is power!
Treat Your RA the Right Way
Hopefully, the tips presented in this guide have given you plenty to consider, as well as renewed hope for your future. Get started with one or more of the treatments listed above to decrease painful symptoms and protect your joints from further damage. Take back control and start treating your rheumatoid arthritis today!