Surgical Options For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Surgery is sometimes needed to fix damaged joints. The exact surgery you need will depend on the joint thats damaged and on the extent of the damage. Surgical options include:
- Arthroscopy and synovectomy. An arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that can be used to perform a synovectomy. A synovectomy is done to remove the inflamed lining of a joint.
- Tendon repair.Surgery can help fix tendons around your joints that are torn or loose.
- Joint replacement. A joint replacement removes the entire damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial joint.
Some people report that dietary changes help reduce their RA symptoms. This generally involves following an anti-inflammatory diet and avoiding foods high in sugar, artificial ingredients, and carbohydrates.
An anti-inflammatory diet includes foods such as:
Talk with your doctor before you begin any supplements to make sure they wont negatively interact with your current prescriptions.
How Well Does Methotrexate Work
The American College of Rheumatology recommends methotrexate as the first medication providers should consider when treating people with rheumatoid arthritis. In head-to-head clinical trials, methotrexate was found to be equally or more effective, and have fewer side effects, than other nonbiologic DMARDs. In most patients, it was also found to take effect faster.
Methotrexate can help improve symptoms and reduce the amount of joint damage that occurs because of RA. Some people who take methotrexate are even able to achieve remission, which is a long period of time without symptoms.
You may be wondering if its worth it to take methotrexate when there are over-the-counter pain medications and steroid medications that can help ease inflammation. Unlike methotrexate, these other medications arent meant to be taken long term. They can rapidly control inflammation, but they dont really slow down how quickly RA gets worse. Taking them for too long can also lead to some serious risks. Theyre often recommended when patients start taking methotrexate and are waiting for the drug to take effect.
Mixing Methotrexate With Herbal Remedies And Supplements
Do not take vitamin and mineral supplements or any other products that contain folic acid if you are already taking folic acid prescribed by your doctor. Check the ingredients on the labels of any supplements.
There is not enough information to say whether it’s safe to take other herbal remedies or supplements together with methotrexate. They are not tested in the same way as medicines.
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What Drugs Are Used To Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
The RA medications youll wind up on will depend on your symptoms and disease severity. To help lessen your pain and inflammation, your rheumatologist may suggest over-the-counter or prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or a short course of corticosteroids. But the ultimate goal is to stop or slow the progression of the disease, preventing potentially debilitating cartilage and bone damage. For that, your physician will likely start with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs . These medications slow down your overactive immune system, so it doesn’t attack the tissue lining your joints.
Which medication specifically your doc chooses depends on your disease severity. If someone has low disease activity, we may offer hydroxychloroquine, which is the least immunosuppressive of the bunch, says Saika Sharmeen, M.D., assistant professor in the division of rheumatology at Stony Brook Medicine in Stony Brook, NY.
Affordability And Financial Assistance
RA therapies can be costly. In fact, biologic medicines are some of the most expensive drugs on the market, costing, on average, $10,000 to $30,000 a year. The most expensive can run more than $500,000.
If you cant afford your recommended medications, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about ways to cut your costs.
Many organizations, such as Good Days, provide financial assistance to people with chronic illnesses. Drug companies may also offer discounts to patients in need. It also might help to check out websites like GoodRx and RxSaver for coupons and where to find the lowest prices in your area.
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Medications For Ra Treatment
Doctors prescribe medications to reduce inflammation and to relieve joint pain caused by RA. The medications used to treat RA often come with serious side effects, so doctors typically start by prescribing lower doses. The treatment regimen is most beneficial to RA patients who are in the early stages of disease because during this time the symptoms are still relatively subtle.
Those with advanced stages of RA need more aggressive treatment to reduce inflammation, the time between exacerbations and other effects associated with the condition. This may often require stronger medications to be prescribed. Unfortunately, these drugs often come with more dangerous side effects.
Here are the different medications usually prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis patients:
NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are medications meant to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. They are available over-the-counter, and when needed, stronger doses may be prescribed. Many people are already familiar with NSAIDs because they are used to treat headaches, fevers and other common ailments safely at home. Ibuprofen and naproxen are two basic NSAIDs that will reduce pain and inflammation temporarily.
Weaker NSAIDs come with little side effects or risks but they also only manage symptoms and pain they will not help with slowing disease activity.
- Liver damage
- Upset stomach
- Kidney damage
Possible side effects include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Mood swings
Examples of traditional DMARDs are:
How Do Nsaids Work
NSAIDs work to reduce inflammation at the affected joints in RA patients. This reduces the swelling and pain that patients experience during flare-ups. NSAIDs work in conjunction with other medications, such as DMARDs, and their dose can be reduced as the DMARDs begin to take effect.
NSAIDs do not, however, prevent the progression of bone and cartilage deterioration in RA patients. They are strictly used to help alleviate swelling and pain.
NSAIDs are designed to block the patients COX enzymes. COX enzymes produce prostaglandins, which are substances that promote inflammation and pain. By blocking the COX enzymes, NSAIDs decreased the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals, which helps to reduce inflammation of the affected joints.
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Vegetarian And Vegan Diets
Many people choose to take up vegetarian or vegan diets for personal, religious, ethical, health or environmental reasons. Generally speaking, vegetarians dont eat any meat or fish, and vegans dont eat meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and other animal products.
Theres no evidence that avoiding foods such as red meat can help with rheumatoid arthritis.
Eating a plant-based diet has lots of health benefits, but its important to make sure youre still getting enough nutrients and making sure that any substitutes for animal products are still healthy choices.
Some people find that a vegetarian diet does help with their symptoms but before you change your diet, you should speak to your doctor or a dietitian to make sure youre still getting all the nutrients you need.
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Natural Treatments For Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are some complementary medicine treatments that might help with your RA. Itâs a good idea to talk it over with your doctor first. Youâll still need to take your medicine and keep up with the other parts of your treatment plan.
Heat and cold. Ice packs can reduce joint swelling and inflammation. Put a cold compress or ice pack on the joint. Use the ice packs for 15 minutes at a time, with 30-minute breaks in between.
Heat compresses relax muscles and stimulate blood flow. Wrap a warm towel or pad around the area that hurts. Or try a warm bath or shower.
Relaxation. Try progressive muscle relaxation. This is when you tense or tighten one muscle group and then relax it. Take deep breaths as you do. Start with the muscles of your feet. Move slowly up your body, ending with the muscles of your face.
Sleep. A lack of shut-eye can make your joints hurt. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Try to get some exercise every day. Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. And don’t forget to “unplug” your bedroom: Turn off TVs, computers, and phones.
Acupuncture. Studies show that acupuncture curbs pain, may lower the need for painkillers, and is good for helping affected joints stay flexible.
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Where To Buy Lab Grade Products
There are a lot of extremely inferior products on the market. Still worse, many of the cheap herbal supplements found in Amazon.com and on the shelves of local drugstores are not inspected by third party regulators with FDA oversight. The majority are selling weakly concentrated ingredients, and there is growing concern that many products are testing in the danger zone for toxic chemicals and fillers.
Below are two companies that weve tested and found to produce lab grade turmeric and boswellia serrata. Their cost is higher due to the quality of ingredients and their strict self-imposed testing standards. Still, the cost is small compared to prices of pharmaceuticals.
Complementary And Alternative Remedies For Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
In addition to conventional treatments medication, physical therapy, and, if necessary, surgery some lifestyle changes and home remedies may be beneficial. Alternative therapies that fall outside of conventional Western medicine may provide additional relief. It’s also important to pay attention to your mental health and to work to reduce the stress of living with RA. Relaxation techniques, visualization exercises, group counseling, and psychotherapy are worth considering.
Some complementary or alternative therapies, such as homeopathy, hydrotherapy, or cryotherapy, might help relieve RA symptoms, though the clinical evidence supporting these methods has been inconclusive. You might want to explore therapies such as acupuncture, tai chi, and yoga. While some people have found these approaches helpful, the research overall hasn’t found clear, definitive benefits.
You should always check with your medical provider before trying any complementary or alternative therapies.
You’ll also want to check with your doctor before using home remedies to relieve the pain and inflammation from a flare-up. At-home treatments that may help soothe pain and stiffness include hot or cold treatments, over-the-counter topical pain relievers, and braces or splints that support the joints.
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Talk To Your Doctor About Ra Treatments
When taking meds, you should discuss a few things with your rheumatologist. For starters, tell your doctor if youre planning to start a family shortly . With some of these medications, you want to be off it for about three months before trying to get pregnant, or trying to get your partner pregnant, says Dr. Blank.
On the other hand, the DMARDs sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine are considered safe for pregnancy, so if youre planning to get pregnant, your doctor may start you on one of those. Theoretically, you can be on some TNF inhibitor biologic drugs until your third trimester, says Dr. Sharmeen. But the only one thats safe is Cimzia, she says.
You also want to talk about your lifestyle. For example, if you drink alcohol your doctor will avoid a drug that affects your liver enzymes. And tell your physician if you tend to get a lot of recurrent infections, upper respiratory infections, or are around young children who may pass along infectionsyour doctor may choose a less immunosuppressant drug if your situation makes you more vulnerable to infections. These are all important things for your doctor to know to find the right for you, says Dr. Sharmeen.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs: Steroids
They are strong anti-inflammatory drugs that can also block other immune responses. Several man-made steroids calls corticosteroids help relieve RA symptoms and may stop or slow joint damage. You receive these RA drugs by pill or as a shot.
Because of the risk of side effects, it is generally recommended that you use these RA drugs only for brief periods for example, when your disease flares up or until DMARDs are fully effective. If your side effects are severe, don’t stop taking the drug suddenly. Talk first with your doctor about what to do.
Examples of corticosteroids:
â¢ Skipped or irregular periods
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Home Remedies For Arthritis But Only One Works
Arthritis is a common disease affecting millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of new cases are identified each year in the United States.
When you are suffering from arthritis, it quickly becomes clear that its not just joints that are affected. RA can also cause severe fatigue, fevers, weight loss, anemia, in addition to causing additional problems throughout the major organs . Sufferers often experience dry mouth, dry eyes, shortness of breath, damaged nerves, malaise, and small skin lumps, just to name a few.
So, how do you get relief? If you would prefer not to take prescription medications nor undergo surgery, there are several natural home remedies that have some reported rates of success in treating symptoms of RA. Want to know whats so great about these methods, in addition to getting some relief from your symptoms? The products used in these natural remedies are very easy to find. The following seven treatments are the most common homeopathic remedies. Bear in mind that response to these remedies will be different for each individual as the disease presents and progresses differently in each individual. Make sure to discuss with your doctor any home remedies that you are considering as they may interact with your body and prescription medications in ways that you did not realize.
How Does Methotrexate Work To Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Methotrexate belongs to a group of medications known as nonbiologic DMARDs . Examples of other nonbiologic DMARDs used to treat RA include , , and .
We dont know exactly how methotrexate works to treat RA yet, but researchers agree that it has an effect on the immune system. Methotrexate is thought to prevent your body from mounting immune and inflammatory responses. One way researchers think it does this is by blocking the effects of folic acid, a chemical that supports the production of new cells. Methotrexate may also ramp up processes in your body that counteract inflammation.
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What Are The Symptoms
RA sufferers are familiar with the severity of the pain associated with stiff and sore joints. Some describe it as having sprained all the joints in their bodies at once. Now imagine that with simultaneous fatigue, appetite loss, and feeling feverish, and you can easily envision how they are apt to feel downright lousy. Then to add insult to injury, some suffer through those episodes it for years and years. The most common signs and symptoms are:
* Swollen joints* Pain and stiffness in the joints, especially after periods of inactivity * Extreme fatigue
Even though RA is not life threatening, you will feel pretty miserable. And thats no way to live your life. Youll be searching for relief and relief that works.
What Are Experimental Therapies For Ra
Experimental therapies are new treatments that show promise but arent yet proven for treating certain medical conditions, such as RA.
Researchers test these therapies in clinical trials to see how well they work. If the medicines are shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials, the Food and Drug Administration may approve them for use in the general public.
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Social And Emotional Support
One of the most important tools for managing a chronic condition like RA is support. It can make a big difference in your treatment to have a doctor and other medical staff you feel comfortable with as part of your care team. Support from friends and family can also help you get through flare-ups and challenging days.
It can also be helpful to connect with other people living with RA. A support group can give you a place to share struggles and triumphs with people in a similar situation. To find an RA support group, check out:
- MyRAteam.MyRAteam is an online social network and support system for people with RA.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Support. Rheumatoid Arthritis Support is an online forum where you can connect with other people with RA.
- Live Yes! Connect Groups. Offered by the Arthritis Foundation, Live Yes! Connect Groups are online support groups for people with RA.
- Arthritis Introspective. Arthritis Introspective is focused on young and middle-aged adults living with rheumatoid and other forms of arthritis. You can find an Arthritis Introspective support group in your area using their locator service.
Methotrexate And Other Traditional Dmards
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs are used used to slow or stop rheumatoid arthritis by suppressing the immune system. The generic names for commonly used DMARDs include:
Biologic drugs target and prevent a specific reaction from happening, stopping the inflammatory process.
This class of medications, called biologic response modifiers, is technically a subset of DMARDs. They may be used with traditional DMARDs or as an alternative to them. Biologics:
- Disrupt certain parts of the cascade of events that lead to RA inflammation and have the potential to stop the disease process.
- Increase a persons risk of infection and tend to be expensive. Because of these potential downsides, biologics are used when methotrexate or other DMARDs prove insufficient or cause unacceptable side-effects.
- May become less effective and/or cause worsening side effects over time. The doctor and patient can work together to monitor changes and decide if and when switching medication is advisable.
Testing for TuberculosisBefore taking any type of biologic medication, a person must be tested for tuberculosis. People who have latent tuberculosis carry the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium without having tuberculosis symptoms. If a person with latent tuberculosis takes immune-suppressing biologic medications the bacterium can multiply and cause symptomatic tuberculosis.
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