Rheumatoid arthritis, shortly put as RA, is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the joints, affecting innumerable people worldwide. This condition is debilitating and hinders physical movements in the advanced stages. Though there are many causes of rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment of each patient is different and differs depending on the cause of the condition and its severity.
Listed below are common treatment options available for the treatment of this disorder.
Treatment Options for Early Rheumatoid Arthritis
Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
NSAID’s or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most popular medications used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Ibuprofen and naproxen are some OTC drugs that treat rheumatoid arthritis quite efficiently. However, overuse of these drugs is known to cause some side-effects such as heart problems, stomach irritation and other gastrointestinal diseases, liver and kidney damage etc.
Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD’s) are yet another effective class of drugs that treat rheumatoid arthritis and lessen the symptoms associated with the disease. These drugs slow down the progression of the disease, thereby lessening the damage of joints and nearby tissues. Severe lung infections and bone marrow suppression are some common side-effects of long term use of DMARD’s.
Since rheumatoid arthritis is a condition wherein the immune system attacks its own body cells and tissues, considering them to be a foreign substance, immunosuppressant drugs may help reduce symptoms and degeneration of tissues. Cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine and azathioprine are some immunosuppressant drugs that efficiently reduce the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
One of the side-effects of taking these drugs is that they tend to lower immune response of the body, making the patient more susceptible to falling prey to different illnesses, especially infection.
Though steroid and corticosteroid medications like prednisone cause certain side-effects like cataract, obesity and diabetes, most doctors prescribe steroids to reduce pain and inflammation of joints.
TNF Alpha Inhibitors
TNF-short form for tumor necrosis factor is an inflammatory substance that is produced in the body when a patient suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs are aimed at reducing stiffness of joints, pain and swelling and tenderness of joints. Some common TNF alpha inhibitors include golimumab, infliximab, etanercept, long term use of which can cause a high risk of heart failure and certain cancers.
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In cases where the patients fail to respond to drugs and medications, and the inflammation has spread widely, a surgery may need to be carried out to restore joint function. Knee and hip replacement surgeries are common, wherein the inflamed and degenerated part of the joint is removed and replaced by metal or ceramic fillings.
When the inflammation has spread to the surrounding tissues, a tendon replacement surgery may be required. These surgeries aim to restore motility and reduce pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
A proper diet lacking inflammation-inducing foods, adequate exercise, and quitting addictions are also known to show wonderful effects in reducing the severity of rheumatoid arthritis. Nowadays, with the advancement of medical technologies, new assistive devices have emerged that help reduce pain and enhance motility.
Ayurvedic and herbal therapies are also beneficial in reducing inflammation and degeneration of joints.