This is a comprehensive guide on rheumatoid arthritis treatment methods and medications. It covers the various treatment methods and medications for rheumatoid arthritis.
The treatment methods listed below includes; drugs for RA and their side effects, the various surgeries for rheumatoid arthritis treatment, lifestyle and home remedies to try out.
As an added bonus, we included an infographic to give you a visual overview of the various treatments options.
We also added a list of guidelines before undergoing rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
Let’s Get Started…
Quick Recap On: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic (reoccurring) autoimmune disorder that affects joints.
This means that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition that makes the immune system (your body’s defensive system) to attack joints in the body.
Thereby causing inflammations in joints of the hands, wrist, and knees. It also causes stiff fingers, unbearable pain and may affect other areas of the body.
The Goals Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment:
There is no known cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
But, there are various rheumatoid arthritis treatment methods that you can take to help reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the body.
These treatments do not cure rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but it helps to reduce inflammation of joints, excruciating pain, and swellings.
So what exactly are the goals of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)Treatment?
1) To Improve The Well-Being And Functioning Of RA Patients:
People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be emotional. In most cases, RA patients suffer from frequent depression and sometimes, end up in tears.
This depression and sadness come as a result of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients not being able to carry out their regular daily routine.
Having trouble at work, limping and sometimes crawling due to excruciating pain from their joints and muscles. These symptoms affect their general health and well-being.
This is one of the major reasons and goals for undergoing rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
2) To Reduce The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):
Another major goal for rheumatoid arthritis treatment (RA) is to reduce the symptoms of RA.
The symptoms caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) such as joint inflammation, stiff fingers, excruciating pain, and swellings, affects the well-being and functioning of the RA patient.
These symptoms are thus reduced with the help of rheumatoid arthritis treatment methods.
3) To Prevent Joint, Organ Damage And Reduce long-term complications:
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment helps to slow down or prevent your joints from getting damaged.
As well as other vital organs of the body, it also helps in reducing long-term complications.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is controlled at early stages because the untreated progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may lead to the weakening of the bones and the destruction of tendons (tissues in your body that connects muscles to bones).
It causes destruction of joint surfaces and joint damage which can impair movement and lead to deformity.
Hence, stiffness of joints and inability to move fingers freely.
Guidelines Before Undergoing Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment:
Before undergoing any RA treatment, it is advisable that you seek medical advice from a certified doctor.
You are also advised not to take medications without talking to your healthcare provider first.
You should learn more about the rheumatoid arthritis treatment methods prescribed to you.
This enables you to know more about various rheumatoid arthritis treatment methods, understand how it affects you and see what works best for you.
It is also essential to get a good doctor. Someone you can talk to, trust and is always willing to listen.
This would ensure you receive the treatment options and medications that’ll work great for you.
Lastly, if you’re in the advanced stages of RA, you may be required to take on more aggressive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment so as to reduce inflammation and prevent joint damage.
However, you may be required to take stronger medications which also have dangerous side effects.Click To Tweet These Guidelines Before Undergoing Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) TreatmentClick To Tweet
What Are The Various Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Treatment Methods?
Here is a visual overview and infographic on the various RA treatment methods. More information on the various rheumatoid arthritis treatment continues below:
Use Of Drugs For Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment:
Drugs for treating rheumatoid arthritis are either used to reduce the symptoms of RA or to slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
There are three major categories of drugs used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They are:
Drugs That Relieves Arthritis Pain And Inflammation (NSAIDs):
These are anti-inflammatory drugs that are used to reduce inflammations, swellings, and pains caused by arthritis.
They are referred to as “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)“.
They are available over-the-counter or by a healthcare provider’s prescription.
NSAIDs can be swallowed by mouth or applied to areas of the body where pain occurs.
Two common examples of NSAIDs used for rheumatoid arthritis treatment are Ibuprofen and Naproxen.
Another example is celecoxib, a drug (COX-2 inhibitor) that is made, to have reduced side effects on the stomach.
Although NSAIDs reduces inflammation and arthritis pains, they do not prevent the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Side Effects Of Using NSAIDs:
All NSAIDs work effectively in relieving pain and inflammation.
However, severe side effects of NSAIDs are often as a result of increased or stronger dosage of NSAIDs.
Some side effects may include; stomach upset and bleeding (including stomach ulcer), kidney and liver damage.
Drugs That Slow Down The Progression Of Rheumatoid Arthritis (Steroids):
These types of medications are taken to reduce inflammation and slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
They are usually taken while waiting for other RA medications (NSAIDs and DMARDs) to start working.
Your healthcare provider may recommend taking steroids in cases of severe rheumatoid arthritis.
Or whenever RA symptoms flare up to help reduce pain or stiffness of inflamed joints.
Examples of corticosteroids used for rheumatoid arthritis treatment include; prednisone, prednisolone, and methylprednisolone.
They can be swallowed by mouth as pills and liquids or taken as injections (directly administered into affected joints) by a healthcare provider.
Side Effects Of Taking Steroids:
When used appropriately, Steroids help to reduce pain, inflammation and slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The side effects of taking steroids usually kick in as a result of using such medications over a long period of time.
This could result in serious and permanent side effects.
Such side effects include; high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, mood swings or trouble sleeping, osteoporosis (weak bones)and cataracts (eye problems).
Drugs That Modify The Course Of The Disease (DMARDs):
Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) are drugs that help to slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by stopping the immune system from attacking joints and tissues.
DMARDs help to protect the joints and tissues from damage and long-term complications caused by RA.
Common examples of DMARDs used for rheumatoid arthritis treatment include; methotrexate, sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), leflunomide (Arava), Sodium aurothiomalate (gold) and cyclosporin.
They are usually taken by mouth or administered by self-injection or with the help of a healthcare provider.
Methotrexate is one of the most important and well known DMARD used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and leflunomide (Arava) are also used for rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
However, Sodium aurothiomalate (gold) and cyclosporin are not used because they are accompanied by adverse side effects.
Methotrexate is usually taken with folic acid. If joints still stay swollen your health care provider may recommend or add other types of DMARDs.
Side Effects Of Using DMARDs:
DMARDs make you susceptible (they make you prone) to infections.
Most of these infections are mild while others are severe.
Although the side effects vary according to the dosage of each medication, the most severe side effect of DMARDs is liver damage.
The Use Of Biologic Response Modifiers (Subsect Of DMARDs):
“Biologic Response Modifiers” are normally referred to as “Biologic DMARD Agents” or “Biologics”.
These are drugs that target specific parts of the immune system responsible for inflammation, tissues and joint damage.
Because of their specific nature, they tend to work faster than conventional DMARDs.
Biologic Agents act by blocking the specific parts of the immune system that play a major role in rheumatoid arthritis inflammation.
They are usually used to stop or slow down the effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) when other medications fail.
Examples Of Biologic Agents used for rheumatoid arthritis treatment are; abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), anakinra (Kineret), baricitinib (Olumiant), sarilumab (Kevzara), tocilizumab (Actemra) and tofacitinib (Xeljanz)
Biologic Agents greatly reduces the risk of long-term complications and are usually prescribed in combination with other rheumatoid arthritis medication.
Side Effects Of Using Biologic Agents:
Biologic Agents and DMARDs, in general, affect the ability of the immune system to fight against infections.
Increased and uncontrolled dosage of tofacitinib can lead to clotting of blood in the lungs and tuberculosis.
The Use Of JAK Inhibitors (Tofacitinib):
These types of drugs block the pathways called “Janus kinase” and that’s why they are referred to as JAK Inhibitors.
JAK Inhibitors are a newer form of DMARDs that works against the pathways (Janus Kinase) that increases the body’s immune response.
Tofacitinib (Xeljanz) belongs to these classes of DMARD and is usually administered orally (by mouth).
Surgery For Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Treatment:
Surgery, as a treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis, may only be required for severe cases of RA.
In a situation whereby there is serious or permanent joint damage that would prevent an RA patient from carrying out his/her regular daily functions in totality, surgery may be required.
There are no guarantees that surgeries for rheumatoid arthritis would be able to restore or fix the damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis in totality.
However, rheumatoid arthritis surgeries would help RA patients to regain the functionality of damaged joints by repairing or replacing them.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) surgeries usually involve some of the surgical procedures below:
Joint Replacement Surgery:
In the case of severely affected joints, joint replacement surgery may be recommended by your healthcare provider.
Joint Replacement Surgery involves removing portions of the damaged joints and replacing them with artificial ones.
Prosthesis (artificial replacements) are usually made up of metal or plastic.
However, some joints in the body such as joints of the ankles, do not respond well to artificial (prosthetic) replacements.
In such cases, joint fusion surgeries are usually recommended.
Joint Fusion Surgery:
When a joint replacement surgery is not appropriate for an RA patient, he or she may need joint fusion surgery.
Joint fusion surgery involves fusing or realigning (joining) joints, to help stabilize and relieve pain.
This type of RA surgery involves removing the inflamed lining of the joints (synovium).
It is needed to prevent pain or tendon rupture in case other rheumatoid arthritis treatment methods fail.
This type of surgery can be carried out on the fingers, wrists, elbows, and knees.
Tendon Repair Surgery:
If the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) leads to inflammation and destruction of tendons (tissues in that connects muscles to bones),
Tendon repair surgery may be recommended by your healthcare provider.
Tendon repair surgery helps to fix these damage tendons to allow easier movements with the affected joints.
Lifestyle And Home Remedies For Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment:
If you’re an RA patient looking for home remedies to try out, here are some that might help.
These home remedies will help you reduce pains and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
When you use these remedies alongside the medications prescribed by your health care provider,
It’ll help you manage the symptoms caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Here are some home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis treatment:
Use Of Arthritis Pain Relief Creams To Relieve RA Symptoms:
Arthritis Pain Relief Creams helps to relieve you of excruciating pain caused by swollen and inflamed joints when applied to your skin (topically).
These creams are very effective in providing short-term relief from pain.
They tend to work best for joints that are closer to the surface of the skin such as joints of the knees, elbows, and hands.
What Is The Best Pain Relief Cream For Arthritis?
Moringa Balm Of Gilead:
Moringa Balm Of Gilead Is a powerful anti-inflammatory pain relief balm.
It helps to reduce arthritis pains, nerve pains and relieves you of tight or sore muscles.
Giving you quick and long lasting relief.
It provides quick action and relieves you of pain even faster and better.
With its’ powerful pain relieving formula, Moringa Balm Of Gilead penetrates through your skin and eases the affected areas.
Moringa Balm Of Gilead has a rich long-lasting pain relief formulation, that keeps you pain-free all day long.
It is also fortified with essential nutrients that rejuvenate your skin.
It keeps your skin moisturized and protected from the side effects caused by rheumatoid arthritis medications.
Physical And Occupational Therapy:
In managing rheumatoid arthritis, it is essential that you practice a healthy and active lifestyle.
It is very effective when you combine both physical therapy and rheumatoid arthritis medications.
A physical therapist can guide you on how to go about appropriate exercises and therapeutic massages.
Occupational therapists, can help you in handling daily tasks and teach you simple and easier ways to get things done at home.
In all physical and occupational therapy motivates you to keep going.
Hot or Cold Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment:
When you apply cold or heat to your affected joints, it can help in alleviating pains, reduce swellings and inflammation.
You could make do of a pack of ice, a heating pad or any pain relieving cream that has a warm or cooling effect.
The heat helps to compress and relax your muscles while cold soothes inflammation and swellings.
You could try applying cold or heat to your joints to see what works best for you.
Acupuncture is a treatment method involves placing needles into specific points on a person’s body to help relieve pain or cure certain illnesses.
Studies show that acupuncture helps to lower the need for pain-relieving medications and gives flexibility boost to your joints.
Acupuncture is usually done by a licensed professional and considered a safe treatment for rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Other Lifestyle And Home Remedies For Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Includes:
- Yoga and Tai Chi.
- Use Of Pain Relief Patch
- Massage and Meditation.
- Use Of Cannabis (CBD) Oil.
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Before you go, I’d love to know which of these treatment methods have you tried?