Treatment for arthritis. posted by Rheumatologist in Dubai UAE
Treatment involves a combination of medication, rest, exercise and methods of protecting the joints.
Highly effective drug treatments exist for rheumatoid arthritis. Early treatment is critical. Current treatment methods focus on relieving pain, reducing inflammation, stopping or slowing joint damage, and improving patient function and well being. Medications can be divided into two groups
Symptomatic medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and analgesics. These help reduce joint pain, stiffness and swelling. These drugs may be used in combination.
Disease modifying agents, such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine, cyclosporine, D-Penicillamine, gold therapy and azathioprine. Newer agents include leflunomide and biologic agents like anti tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (anti TNF) and IL-1 receptor antagonists. These agents may alter the disease course and therefore improve long term outcome.
Your doctor may also decide to start you on corticosteroids, which are drugs related to the natural hormone cortisone. These medications can be given either orally (by mouth) or by an injection into the joint.
Appropriate and regular exercises are essential to strengthen muscles weakened by disease. Rheumatoid arthritis often makes joints stiff and restrict their motion if they aren’t used regularly. Exercises are designed to meet the needs of each patient and should be monitored by professionals specialising in physical medicine (physiotherapists). Generally, if joints are very inflamed or swollen it is advisable to rest the joint rather than exercise.
Heat and Cold Treatment
Heat and cold treatment are effective means of relaxing muscles and relieving pain in arthritic joints. A hot bath, hot pads, paraffin wax and cold compresses are some methods frequently used. If joints are swollen wrapping them with an ice cold towel is useful. If muscles are stiff then warm compresses can help.
Rest decreases the swelling and pain around inflamed joints and reduces fatigue. The number of hours that a patient should rest every day and the way they should rest should be reviewed with your doctor. In some cases, splints may be prescribed by the occupational therapists to rest joints, hold them in correct positions and prevent muscles around joints from becoming too tight.
No special diet causes or cures rheumatoid arthritis. Nevertheless, a well-balanced and nutritious diet is beneficial. If you are overweight, a diet to reduce weight will reduce stress on affected joints.
Is There a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
NO. But with appropriate treatment the disease can be kept under control.
What is the Outlook for Patients?
Rheumatoid arthritis can be mild, moderate or severe. For most people who begin to follow a proper treatment program early in their illness, the amount of permanent joint damage is small. In fact, most of the disabilities due to rheumatoid arthritis are preventable. A small minority of patients develop severely deformed joints. This is because of unusually severe disease or neglect. In the early stages of the disease with appropriate treatment, the majority of patients improve. Most patients with rheumatoid arthritis can look to the future with confidence.
If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
SEEK a doctor’s advice early and follow the advice faithfully. An early diagnosis is the way to successful treatment.
AVOID unnecessary strains on affected joints. Follow a program of exercise prescribed by your team of doctor, physiotherapist and occupational therapist.
GET adequate rests and sleep.
BEWARE of any individual or organisation that promotes special “cures”. Do not rely on unproven remedies in the hope that the disease will go away.
DO NOT doctor hop.
DO NOT be afraid of arthritis. Handled by a physician, the arthritis can be controlled.
TAKE medications as advised by your doctor. Never change dosage or medications without your doctor’s knowledge.
LEARN as much as you can about your disease.
JOIN the Emirates Arthritis Foundation, an organisation formed to disseminate information on arthritis, research on and fight against arthritis.