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How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated? — an article on the Smart Living Network
February 17, 2008 at 12:04 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated?


While the term arthritis refers to joint inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis is a term for chronic arthritis that occurs symmetrically in the body, meaning it happens on both sides. You may experience rheumatoid arthritis in your hands, knees, wrists, or ankles. Since most forms of arthritis occur in a particular area, the symmetrical pain of rheumatoid arthritis helps with an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms include joint pain and swelling, stiffness, and fatigue.

How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated?

The main goal when treating rheumatoid arthritis is to control the inflammation. Relieving the pain and inflammation, healing the joint, and then working to build strength in the area is the recommended treatment. Your doctor may prescribe medication or a combination of medications along with therapy to alleviate the pain and inflammation.


There are a few commonly prescribed medications for rheumatoid arthritis. Most commonly, a doctor will recommend NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin. Prescription NSAIDs may be prescribed for stronger pain reflief, however NSAIDs are known to cause stomach irritation and ulcers, so care should be used when taking them.

Steroids in the form of a pill or injection directly to the joint are very effective, but long-term side effects can include high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and diabetes. DMARDS, or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, can be taken to slow down the progression of the disease.

Physical Therapy

Your doctor may recommend physical therapy or regular exercise to ease your rheumatoid arthritis. While it seems counterintuitive, exercise will, in the long run, ease the pain caused by arthritis. Keep in mind that regular exercise will lengthen your life, keep your bones strong, and muscles flexible and keep your mind alert. Be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Try to focus on flexibility, strengthening, and conditioning.


Surgical joint replacement can be a great choice for some people whose joints can hardly function. Usually performed after the age of fifty, surgical joint replacement can improve your mobility and ease your pain.

Pain Management

A positive outlook on life has been shown to dramatically affect life span. Those who are better equipped to deal with the problems life throws at us are shown to experience less stress. By learning to manage and cope with the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, you will ensure yourself a longer, healthier and happier life.

Behavioral therapy and pain management will teach techniques to relax and work through the pain. Relaxation techniques, deep breathing and gentle stretching are common therapies. You may also want to learn how to cope with stress, and how to manage your daily routine without pushing yourself to strenuously.


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