Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments

Published by Steve Hedberg on January 6, 2012 Under arthritis

Rheumatoid is a very common type of arthritis, which is the result of an autoimmune disorder, but the exact causes are not known. Despite there not being a cure for arthritis, treatment is very important in ensuring the disease does not get worse. When caught soon enough, proper treatment of rheumatoid arthritis can often prevent deformity.

There are several common treatments, which usually involve a combination of medicines, exercise, and healthy living. However, like most conditions, there are many companies that sell ineffective products or suggest treatments that are no more effective than the placebo effect, so it is important to always consult your doctor before attempting any treatment.

Diet and Exercise

For those with arthritis, it is common to be bombarded with organic diet plans that claim to offer a cure for the disease. Most of these miracle nutrient supplements and vitamins are, in fact, scams, although fish oil has been shown to help with joint inflammation.

With that said, overweight individuals are at an increased risk for developing arthritis and obesity can severely complicate existing arthritis, so staying at a healthy weight is essential. So, while diet is very important, the main goal of an arthritis friendly diet is to remain healthy and prevent weight gain.

Exercise, however, is extremely important and there have been a number of studies that show that it not only reduces the effects of arthritis, but can help with joint pain. Often, due to the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of arthritis, the individual will be less likely to feel motivated to work out or exercise, which can further complicate issues, creating a cycle of pain.

It is essential to speak with a doctor or physical therapist first, before attempting any exercises though, because high impact sports, like running or soccer, can significantly increase joint pain and the effects of arthritis. Generally, swimming provides the safest type of exercise, however walking can also help a great deal.

Common Medicines Used for Treatment

There is no cure for arthritis, but this does not mean that it should not be treated. When rheumatoid arthritis is not treated, it will typically result in disability caused by deformities in the joints. However, when caught early, prior to joint deformity, many of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can be prevented.

Unfortunately, many of the medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis carry severe side effects and can increase the risk for other diseases. It is important to always take medications as prescribed and have an open dialog with the prescribing physician, discussing possible risks of treatment.

Depending on the severity of the arthritis, three groups of medications are typically used: NSAIDs, anti-malarial, and anti-metabolic medications. Their use, of course, varies situation by situation, but this is a common type of treatment plan.

NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, provide an important protection against inflammation. They work by stopping, or inhibiting, an enzyme in the body called cycloxgenases(COXs) that help produce an anti-inflammatory response in the body. NSAIDs carry a number of risks, such as heart disease and increased risk of ulcers, with many of the popular NSAIDs from only a few years ago now being blocked from production by the FDA due to health risks. Generally, they take about ten to fourteen days for the patient to feel an effect, but some report immediate relief.

Antimalarial drugs have been shown to be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis, but the exact reasons are unclear. Their effectiveness, however, is a factor that leads many to conclude rheumatoid arthritis is related to infection. The most common, hydroxychloroquine, which has been used to treat malaria in some form or another for many years, is often prescribed, but does have some side effects, such as potential blindness.

A common type of antimetabolic medication is methotrexate, which works to prevent the use of vitamin B by the body, specifically targeting folic acid. Folic acid is directly tied to the body’s autoimmune response and by inhibiting it, can sow down the autoimmune response that destroys cartilage.

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