Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition of body joints, mostly affecting wrist and knee joints. Although at present there is no permanent cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the irritating symptoms can be controlled by pharmacological as well as non-pharmacological means. All treatments reduce the suffering of the patient and improve the quality of life, making living with this condition less troublesome.
Several anti-inflammatory and pain relieving drugs are used to retard the progress of the symptoms associated with this disease. Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) controls pain and inflammation. In combination with other drugs, it even prevents damage damage.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as methotrexate, Arava, Azulfidine, Cytoxan, Imuran, Neoral, and Plaquenil stop disease progression. They suppress the immune system, as well as the symptoms arising due to hyper immune action. These drugs, especially, methotrexate preserves the joint lining and its function. In severe pain, sometimes doctors may prescribe steroids to relieve pain and hardness. It is given temporarily for calming sudden flare.
Physical therapy is a beneficial treatment in rheumatoid arthritis. When used appropriately, therapy can relate pain, reduce infection, and help protect joint structure and function. A professional physiotherapist may suggest special exercises to improve joint movement. You may use heat or cold treatment to reduce pain and stiffness. Rest and finger splinting are often used to calm joint pain, prevent deformities and improve movement. Some therapists use ultrasound to treat inflammation of the sheath covering tendons and joints. Beside exercise, relaxation techniques are taught to reduce muscle spasm.
Several assistive devices are suggested to assist painless movement of the joint. Special tools help to hold things easily and comfortably. Podiatrists can make foot orthotics for special support.
Biologics are an emerging treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. They are genetically engineered proteins directed against the hyper activated immune system, to control its inflammatory response. They are considered to be potential future drugs to stop rheumatoid arthritis. TNF blockers are also used to calm the immune system, relieve pain and stop joint deterioration. They have shown beneficial results when combined with methotrexate. It has also been reported to affect the natural ability of the immune system to fight back infections.
Surgery is the last resort when other agents fail to stop the damage. Effective surgical procedures include tendon repair, total joint replacement, and joint fusion. Appropriate use of above-mentioned treatments certainly has the potential to help to free you from this painful state.