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The Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Bone And Joint Health Articles > Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is basically a disease of inflammation in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be a mainly genetic disease, typically affecting people after the age of 40. Rheumatoid arthritis can be very limiting and difficult for a person to deal with. There are many treatment options and rheumatoid arthritis can be kept under control as long as a patient continues with the treatment and does not stop even if they are feeling considerably better.

Treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis typically include some type of exercise routine. It has been found that isometric exercise seem to be best since they typically put little stress on the joints and allow for strengthening of the muscle. Any exercise routines should be designed and approved by a medical professional. It is key to treat rheumatoid arthritis as systematically as possible.

Patients of rheumatoid arthritis should also try and avoid stressful situations. Links have been found between stress and flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore maintaining a stress-free environment is important. Keeping your life as stress-free as possible is also beneficial for a variety of reasons. Emotional stress has been linked to many problems in the body. Patients of rheumatoid arthritis should also be sure to change their positions frequently.

Surgery is a possibility, but your doctor will determine when the time comes if this is necessary or if it will be beneficial to you. The specifics of the different types of surgery are very complex and vary depending where the patient is experiencing pain and difficulty.

Medication may also be prescribed by your doctor, but since there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, this can only be used to control the disease and make the patient more comfortable. There are many different options, and your doctor will determine which are best for you.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful and frustrating disease to live with. However, with proper care and a good exercise and prevention program patients are able to lead fairly normal lives. If you are concerned about rheumatoid arthritis please see your doctor.

Additional Rheumatoid Arthritis Information

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are caused by improper immune reactions that occur when the one’s immune system attacks one’s own body, mistaking it for a foreign invader. RA causes inflammation in the lining of the joints and, sometimes, of other internal organs. This can lead to pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of function in the joints. The disease can vary widely from individual to individual in terms of severity, joints affected and the nature of other organs involved, which can include the eyes, the lungs or the skin.

Symptoms

  • Lingering stiffness in the joints in the morning.

  • Swelling and inflammation of the joints.

  • Damaged joints, as shown by X-rays.

  • Blood tests showing an antibody known as rheumatoid factor.

  • Other signs of RA can include loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, fever or anemia.

Who Gets Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than two million Americans, and is three times more prevalent in women than in men, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Muscloskeletal and Skin Diseases. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 45.

Causes

The cause of RA is unknown. What is known is that RA is an autoimmune disease which means the body’s immune system is mistakenly attacking the body’s own tissues. This attack on the body’s own organs leads to inflammation and joint damage. Researchers suspect that agents similar to viruses may trigger RA in some people who have an inherited tendency for the disease. Many people with RA have a certain genetic marker called HLA-DR4.

Diagnosis

RA can be difficult to diagnose because it can have a subtle, gradual onset and symptoms mimicking other conditions. If your doctor suspects that you may have rheumatoid arthrtis, he or she can take a medical history, evaluate the symptoms and run lab tests, such as a red blood cell count and sedmentation rate, as well as checking for the presence of Rheumatoid Factor in the blood. X-rays can be used to determine the progression of the disease. The best way to diagnose the condition is a combination of diagnosic tools.

Treatment

Treatment options for RA have expanded dramatically during the past several years. Typically, treatment will involve some combination of medication, exercise, rest, joint protection, and physical and occupational therapy. Success depends on early diagnosis and early, aggressive treatment before function is impaired and joints are damaged. There is no cure for RA. Initially, treatment may focus on pain relief and swelling reduction. Pain medications may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or a relatively newer class of medications called COX-2 inhibitors.

Extra Information

It is recommended that you consult your physician for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. In Missouri, people with arthritis can turn to the state’s Arthritis Program. The Missouri Arthritis Program includes seven Regional Arthritis Center, putting every Missourian within 100 miles of help. Missouri’s Regional Arthritis Centers offer self-help and exercise classes, support groups and educational materials. Several other states have state arthritis plans.

For more Information on Arthritis and more check out our page General Arthritis.

Bone And Joint Health Articles > Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis