Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options

by : Robert Kokoska

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where involves inflammation of joints which leads to further swelling and pain. It causes an upset inside the body where the immune system starts attacking joint tissue, cartilage and other organs. However the causes of rheumatoid arthritis are still not known fully. This type of arthritis is the most common and affects one in every 100 people. Rheumatoid arthritis affects people of all ages but mainly effects people within the ages of 30 to 50. Women are three times more likely to be effected as men. Patients carrying this form of arthritis most often complain of fluctuating pain and inflammation of joints, which can get gets worse during flare-ups. This article aims to offer an insight into several treatments that can be used against rheumatoid arthritis.

There are two main kinds of drugs used against rheumatoid arthritis; first line drugs, fast acting drugs, and second line which are slow acting drugs.

First line drugs include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Examples of NSAIDs are aspirin, ibuprofen and etodolac. These can be used to reduce pain and swelling of joints. Aspirin has long been used to decrease inflammation. It can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis by using doses that are higher then those used during fever. Newer types of NSAIDs are effective as aspirin and require fewer intakes per day. However just like all medication, it has its own side effects which include stomach pain, abdominal pain and a few others. In order to minimize the side effects of NSAIDs, they are regularly taken with meals. Another type of first line drugs includes Corticosteroids.

They are more powerful then NSAIDs and are given either orally or through an injection to the inflamed areas such as joints. Corticosteroids are given in small doses, mainly during flare-ups as it reacts more strongly to inflammation. However it can have serious side effects on the body if given for an extended period of time in high doses. These include weight gain, easy risk of infection, easy bruising and others. The side effects can be minimized by decreasing the level of doses given to the patients slowly as the condition of the patient improves. A sharp decline in the doses given to the patient is discouraged as it can lead to flare-ups and other symptoms of the disease.

Second line drugs include Disease-modifying Anti-rheumatic Drugs or DMARDs. These drugs are mainly used to prevent destruction of joints and deformity. DMARDs are used for an extended period of time in order to be effective. DMARDs can often be used with a combination of other second line drugs as therapy. Some examples of DMARDs include Sulfasalazine, Hydroxychloroquine, D-penicillamine and others.

Apart from the above methods, there are some other approaches that can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The patients can undertake exercise that can help them improve their physical condition and improve joint mobility. Additionally it is important to have a healthy intake of food. Many often patients with rheumatoid arthritis can experience weight loss. This can be combined with medication and therapy to come up with a more potent combination against the condition. Depending on your position, you can under go either physiotherapy or occupational therapy. This will help improve flexibility, mobility, and reduce pain in your joints.

The aforementioned approaches to rheumatoid arthritis have been used time and again. However it is essential to seek your nearest doctor to get firm guidance. Each arthritis case shall be dealt on an individual basis. With the passage of time, new and more effective treatments against arthritis are starting to come through. However the only way to gain the maximum benefit from the existing treatments will be to remain punctual throughout the course of the medication. It is important to constantly consult your doctor and keep him or her up to date with your condition, so that the doctor can advise you further and give more effective feedback.