Currently there is no cure for Rheumatoid arthritis. There are treatments available and the goals of treatment are to reduce the pain and joint inflammation, prevent joint destruction and deformity and to maximize or maintain current joint function. Early diagnosis and treatment have been important in improving the outcomes of the effects of RA.
Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis – Reduce Inflammation and Pain
Medications are used to help reduce inflammation and reduce the pain associated with RA. The fast acting medications such as aspirin or corticosteroids are helpful to reduce pain and swelling in the joints. Application of moist heat and cold, elevation of the swollen joints and resting them can help to reduce early morning swelling and pain.
Other pain relieving methods that also may help to reduce inflammation include hydrotherapy and relaxation therapies.
Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis- Maximize Joint Function
Optimal treatment for RA involves mediation, rest and strengthening exercises for the joints. The success of treatment is correlated with the cooperation between the patient and the doctor.
Range of motion exercises can help to maintain normal joint function and help to relieve stiffness in the joints. Range of motion exercises also help to maintain or improve flexibility.
Strengthening exercises such as weight training can help to maintain or improve strength in the muscles that support and protect the joints.
Endurance and Aerobic exercise – can help improve the cardiovascular fitness of the individual and be helpful in weight control or reduction. Extra weight on affected joints increases pain and risk of damage to those joints. Aerobic exercise can also be effective in reducing inflammation in the joints.
Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis – Prevent Joint Destruction and Deformity
The second line drugs of rheumatoid arthritis treatment such as methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine are used to promote remission of the condition and to prevent progressive joint destruction. These medications are not anti-inflammatory medications and are generally given in conjunction with the first line drugs of treatment that do have anti-inflammatory properties such as corticosteroids and aspirin.
Studies continue to determine the effects of blocking TNFa which would serve to block inflammation and halt bone erosion in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Therapy to prevent or reverse bone loss is directed at the suppression of inflammation and stimulation of osteoblastic bone formation. The scientific community is hopeful that altering the inflammatory induced bone loss will result in less functional disability.