What Are the Best Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a crippling condition, one that can leave its sufferers searching for any form of relief. Though there’s no cure for this painful disease, there are different treatment options that can alleviate symptoms, soothe aches and pains, and help those with RA live full lives.

Here are a few of the best treatment options for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis – and why they’re such great choices.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

One of the most common treatment options rheumatoid arthritis sufferers turn to is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications are available over the counter at any local drugstore or by prescription from a doctor.

As the Mayo Clinic writes, NSAIDs relieve pain and soothe inflammation throughout the body. This is perfect for RA sufferers, as inflammation causes the pain felt on a daily basis. Over-the-counter NSAIDs are affordable, and they’re common – ibuprofen, such as Advil and Motrin, and naproxen sodium, like Aleve, are the two most common ingredients.

If a stronger form of pain relief is needed, prescription NSAIDs can be prescribed. RA sufferers simply need to speak with their rheumatologist or doctor to determine what type of NSAID will best work on their most pressing, painful symptoms. No matter which type of NSAID is best for each individual with RA, they’re most commonly taken in pill form for easy, convenient dosing.

Biologics

NSAIDs are the first line of treatment options and pain relief, but those who are suffering more significant effects of rheumatoid arthritis may want to consider stronger medications that target multiple symptoms. And commonly, medications known as biologics are prescribed.

Biologics are a fast-working medication that’s either taken orally, injected by a doctor, or given via infusion according to the Arthritis Foundation. They’re designed to target the source of inflammation, which gets to the very root cause of RA pain. Biologics affect the immune system, working to prevent joint and tissue damage by slowing, modifying, or stopping the progression of RA and the body’s immune responses.

The Mayo Clinic reports that some of the most common biologics given to those with RA include:

  • Abatacept (Orencia)
  • Adalimumab (Humira)
  • Etanercept (Enbrel)
  • Infliximab (Remicade)
  • Tofacitinib (Xeljanz)

Physical Therapy

When living with RA, it can feel absolutely impossible to move. The joint pain can leave sufferers in bed for periods of time – but getting moving is actually a form of treatment for RA pain.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, physical therapy is one treatment option that can help keep joints flexible, reducing stiffness and making it easier to perform everyday tasks even when in pain. Physical therapy can be prescribed by a doctor, and it usually includes a set number of weekly visits with a therapist who’ll work with rheumatoid arthritis pain to achieve relief.

During physical therapy, patients work on performing daily tasks, finding ways to move that are easier on the joints, and practicing stretching and massage techniques to soothe symptoms. Physical therapy can also introduce those with RA to helpful aids, like button hooks or utensils with saw handles in order to make small, painful tasks easier for patients.

Complementary Therapies

If medications and physical therapy don’t provide total relief, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers can try complementary therapies. These are lifestyle changes and adjustments that, when used in combination with other tried and true RA treatment options, can help greatly.

Complementary therapies are often all-natural and focus more on diet and lifestyle rather than medications. So, in addition to taking an NSAID or biologic, RA patients can add supplements to their diets, eat foods that are known to be anti-inflammatory, or try regular exercise. As the Arthritis Foundation writes, even small changes like using hot and cold therapy on painful joints or balancing rest breaks with periods of activity can make a significant difference.

How to Find the Right Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Relief from rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to achieve – but it is possible. RA is a condition that worsens without care and attention, meaning it’s critical to find ways to manage the pain and other symptoms that commonly accompany an RA diagnosis. To keep joints from deteriorating and in their best possible shape, finding the right treatment options is key.

Before choosing a treatment option, research is an important step. Along with a medical doctor, look into and search for different treatment possibilities that are proven to alleviate pain and make everyday activities easier. Each body is unique, and every treatment option can have different impacts and effects – so it’s important to search for ones that suit specific symptoms and health needs.

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