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Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)

RA Diet and Other Therapy

No herb, natural product, or nutritional supplement has been shown definitively to be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis. Studies are under way to test some herbal products thought to be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis, but we do not know enough about them to recommend them. People with rheumatoid arthritis are using omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) and turmeric with varying degrees of success in reducing inflammation.

Other dietary changes that some people with rheumatoid arthritis can find helpful including increasing hydration for the dry mouth of Sjögren's syndrome, increasing fish intake (especially salmon) for fish oil supplementation to reduce inflammation, and taking anti-inflammatory medications with food to avoid stomach irritation (gastritis and dyspepsia). As described above, some research has suggested that a fish-grain diet can decrease the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis while a Western high-fat diet might increase the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis. There are currently no particular foods that are universally recommended that people with rheumatoid arthritis avoid, but dietary discretion is individualized based on patients' own experiences.

A variety of complementary approaches may be effective in relieving pain. These include acupuncture and massage.

When Is Surgery Needed for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Some people with rheumatoid arthritis need several operations over time. Examples include removal of damaged synovium (synovectomy), tendon repairs, and replacement of badly damaged joints, especially the knees or hips. Surgical fusion of damaged rheumatoid wrists can alleviate pain and improve function. Sometimes rheumatoid nodules in the skin that are irritating are removed surgically.

Some people with rheumatoid arthritis have involvement of the vertebrae of the neck (cervical spine). This has the potential for compressing the spinal cord and causing serious consequences in the nervous system. This is important to identify prior to anesthesia intubation procedures for surgery. These people with serious spinal involvement occasionally need to undergo surgical fusion of the spine.

Follow-up for Rheumatoid Arthritis

A specialist or primary-care physician should regularly monitor the patient's condition, response to treatment, and side effects and other problems related to the rheumatoid arthritis or treatment. The best way to monitor the condition is to see if there is any disability (loss of function) and, if so, how much.

The frequency of these visits depends on the activity of the rheumatoid arthritis. If the treatment is working well and the patient's condition is stable, the visits can be less frequent than if the rheumatoid arthritis is getting worse, there are complications, or if the patient is having severe side effects of treatment. Each person's situation must be decided individually.

Can RA Be Prevented?

There is no known way to prevent rheumatoid arthritis, although progression of the disease usually can be stopped or slowed by early, aggressive treatment.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/21/2016

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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Treatment

What was the treatment for your rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Medications

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Rheumatoid Arthritis - Early Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) - Diet

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Rheumatoid Arthritis »

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease of unknown cause that primarily affects the peripheral joints in a symmetric pattern.

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