Treatments for Rheumatoid arthritis
Treatment list for Rheumatoid arthritis: The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for Rheumatoid arthritis includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.
- Pain relief
- NSAID COX-2 inhibitors
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Rofecoxib (Vioxx)
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Gold salts (Myochrysine, Ridaura) - oral or injected
- Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
- Penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen)
- Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
- Arava® (leflunomide)
- Immunosuppresssive medications
- Corticosteroids (glucocorticoids)
- Prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone)
- Methylprednisolone (Medrol)
- Biologic Response Modifiers
- Etanercept (Enbrel)
- Kineret® (anakinra) - an IL-1 blocker
- Remicade® (infliximab) - in combination with methotrexate.
- Antibody blood filtering - for severe rheumatoid arthritis.
- Prosorba Column® (apheresis)
- Tendon reconstruction
- Surgical joint realignment
- Surgical joint replacement
- Lifestyle treatments
- Rehabilitation treatments
- Stress relief
Treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis:
- Arthritis Foundation reports on top 10 arthritis developments in 2004
- Diabetes vaccine may prevent diabetes in children at risk
- Health Canada warns consumers about various COX-2 inhibitor NSAIDs
- Herbal dietary supplement promises treatment of many conditions
- Hypothyroidism frequently misdiagnosed or undiagnosed
- Pfizer releases Bextra risks information
- Vioxx approved for treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Vioxx lawsuits to be filed in Britain
Treatments of Rheumatoid arthritis discussion: Rheumatoid arthritis of the knee may require physical therapy and more powerful medications. In people with arthritis of the knee, a seriously damaged joint may need to be replaced with an artificial one. (A new procedure designed to stimulate the growth of cartilage by using a patient's own cartilage cells is being used experimentally to repair cartilage injuries at the end of the femur at the knee. It is not, however, a treatment for arthritis.) 1
Doctors use a variety of approaches to treat rheumatoid arthritis. These are used in different combinations and at different times during the course of the disease and are chosen according to the patient's individual situation. No matter what treatment the doctor and patient choose, however, the goals are the same: relieve pain, reduce inflammation, slow down or stop joint damage, and improve the person's sense of well-being and ability to function.
Treatment is another key area for communication between patient and doctor. Talking to the doctor can help ensure that exercise and pain management programs are provided as needed and that drugs are prescribed appropriately. Talking can also help in making decisions about surgery.
Goals of Treatment
Current Treatment Approaches
This approach includes several activities that help improve a person's ability to function independently and maintain a positive outlook.
Rest and exercise: Both rest and exercise help in important ways. People with rheumatoid arthritis need a good balance between the two, with more rest when the disease is active and more exercise when it is not. Rest helps to reduce active joint inflammation and pain and to fight fatigue. The length of time needed for rest will vary from person to person, but in general, shorter rest breaks every now and then are more helpful than long times spent in bed.
Exercise is important for maintaining healthy and strong muscles, preserving joint mobility, and maintaining flexibility. Exercise can also help people sleep well, reduce pain, maintain a positive attitude, and lose weight. Exercise programs should be planned and carried out to take into account the person's physical abilities, limitations, and changing needs.
Care of joints: Some people find that using a splint for a short time around a painful joint reduces pain and swelling by supporting the joint and letting it rest. Splints are used mostly on wrists and hands, but also on ankles and feet. A doctor or a physical or occupational therapist can help a patient get a splint and ensure that it fits properly. Other ways to reduce stress on joints include self-help devices (for example, zipper pullers, long-handled shoe horns); devices to help with getting on and off chairs, toilet seats, and beds; and changes in the ways that a person carries out daily activities.
Stress reduction: People with rheumatoid arthritis face emotional challenges as well as physical ones. The emotions they feel because of the disease--fear, anger, frustration--combined with any pain and physical limitations can increase their stress level. Although there is no evidence that stress plays a role in causing rheumatoid arthritis, it can make living with the disease difficult at times. Stress may also affect the amount of pain a person feels. There are a number of successful techniques for coping with stress. Regular rest periods can help, as can relaxation, distraction, or visualization exercises. Exercise programs, participation in support groups, and good communication with the health care team are other ways to reduce stress.
Healthful diet: With the exception of several specific types of oils (mentioned in the Current Research section), there is no scientific evidence that any specific food or nutrient helps or harms most people with rheumatoid arthritis. However, an overall nutritious diet with enough--but not an excess of--calories, protein, and calcium is important. Some people may need to be careful about drinking alcoholic beverages because of the medications they take for rheumatoid arthritis. Those taking methotrexate may need to avoid alcohol altogether. Patients should ask their doctors for guidance on this issue.
Climate: Some people notice that their arthritis gets worse when there is a sudden change in the weather. However, there is no evidence that a specific climate can prevent or reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. Moving to a new place with a different climate usually does not make a long-term difference in a person's rheumatoid arthritis.
Most people who have rheumatoid arthritis take medications. Some medications are used only for pain relief; others are used to reduce inflammation. Still others--often called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs--are used to try to slow the course of the disease. The person's general condition, the current and predicted severity of the illness, the length of time he or she will take the drug, and the drug's effectiveness and potential side effects are important considerations in prescribing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis. The table below about "Medications Commonly Used To Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis" shows currently used rheumatoid arthritis medications, along with their effects, side effects, and monitoring requirements.
Traditionally, rheumatoid arthritis therapy has involved an approach in which doctors prescribed aspirin or similar drugs, rest, and physical therapy first, and prescribed more powerful drugs later only if the disease became much worse. Recently, many doctors have changed their approach, especially for patients with severe, rapidly progressing rheumatoid arthritis. This change is based on the belief that early treatment with more powerful drugs, and the use of drug combinations in place of single drugs, may be more effective ways to halt the progression of the disease and reduce or prevent joint damage.2
Several types of surgery are available to patients with severe joint damage. The primary purpose of these procedures is to reduce pain, improve the affected joint's function, and improve the patient's ability to perform daily activities. Surgery is not for everyone, however, and the decision should be made only after careful consideration by patient and doctor. Together they should discuss the patient's overall health, the condition of the joint or tendon that will be operated on, and the reason for and the risks and benefits of, the surgical procedure. Cost may be another factor. Commonly performed surgical procedures include joint replacement, tendon reconstruction, and synovectomy.
Joint replacement: This is the most frequently performed surgery for rheumatoid arthritis, and it is done primarily to relieve pain and improve or preserve joint function. Artificial joints are not always permanent and may eventually have to be replaced. This may be an issue for younger people.
Tendon reconstruction: Rheumatoid arthritis can damage and even rupture tendons, the tissues that attach muscle to bone. This surgery, which is used most frequently on the hands, reconstructs the damaged tendon by attaching an intact tendon to it. This procedure can help to restore hand function, especially if the tendon is completely ruptured.
Synovectomy: In this surgery, the doctor actually removes the inflamed synovial tissue. Synovectomy by itself is seldom performed now because not all of the tissue can be removed, and it eventually grows back. Synovectomy is done as part of reconstructive surgery, especially tendon reconstruction.
Routine Monitoring and Ongoing Care
Regular medical care is important to monitor the course of the disease, determine the effectiveness and any negative effects of medications, and change therapies as needed. Monitoring typically includes regular visits to the doctor. It may also include blood, urine, and other laboratory tests and x rays.
Osteoporosis prevention is one issue that patients may
want to discuss with their doctors as part of their long-term, ongoing
care. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones lose calcium and become
weakened and fragile. Many older women are at increased risk for
osteoporosis, and their rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk further,
particularly if they are taking corticosteroids such as prednisone.
These patients may want to discuss with their doctors the potential
benefits of calcium and vitamin D supplements, hormone replacement
therapy, or other treatments for osteoporosis.2
1. excerpt from Questions and Answers About Knee Problems: NIAMS
2. excerpt from Handout on Health Rheumatoid Arthritis: NIAMS
Last revision: June 13, 2003
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