Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Rheumatoid arthritis is most often treated with medicine, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Treatment may help relieve symptoms and control the disease, but there is no cure. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis usually continues throughout your life, but it will vary depending on:
The goal of treatment is to help you maintain your lifestyle, reduce joint pain, slow joint damage, and prevent disability.
Making a plan
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis should start with education about the disease, the possibility of joint damage and disability, and the risks and benefits of potential treatments. A long-term treatment plan should be developed by you and your team of doctors.
Treatment with medicines
Early and ongoing treatment of RA with medicines called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can slow or sometimes prevent joint destruction.3 Other medicines may be combined with DMARDs to relieve symptoms. These medicines include:
For more information, see Medications.
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis usually continues throughout your life. Your doctor will want to closely monitor your condition. A rheumatologist should evaluate you regularly. Depending on your symptoms and treatment, this could be done as often as every 2 to 3 months or every 6 to 12 months. Testing, such as blood tests, may be done more often.
During each follow-up visit, your doctor will assess:
In some cases, the disease does not respond to the first several treatments. When this happens, the disease may be treated with much higher doses of medicines or with different combinations of medicines.
Surgery may be considered when the joints—especially the hips, knees, or feet—are severely damaged or deformed and are causing extreme pain. Surgery may include total joint replacement or other techniques to improve joint function. For more information, see Surgery and Other Treatment.
Exercise and lifestyle changes
Exercise, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes can help relieve joint pain. Many people with RA benefit from self-care plans that balance rest and activity. You can take steps at home to relieve your symptoms and help control your disease. For more information, see Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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