What Are Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options
- There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis.
- To date, the goal of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce joint inflammation and pain, maximize joint function, and prevent joint destruction and deformity.
- Early medical intervention has been shown to be important in improving outcomes.
- Aggressive management can improve function, stop damage to joints as monitored on X-rays, and prevent work disability.
- Optimal RA treatment involves a combination of medicines, rest, joint-strengthening exercises, joint protection, and patient education.
- Treatment is customized according to many factors such as disease activity, types of joints involved, general health, age, and patient occupation.
- RA treatment is most successful when there is close cooperation between the doctor, patient, and family members.
Are There Alternative Treatments For Osteoarthritis
While recent research has questioned their usefulness, some medical research has shown that the supplementsglucosamine and chondroitin may relieve pain in some people with osteoarthritis, especially in the knee. There is no evidence that glucosamine can help rebuild cartilage. SAMe is another supplement with potential benefits for osteoarthritis. In fact, some research has shown it may be as effective an anti-inflammatory drugs. Remember to always let your doctor know about any supplements you’re taking, because they can have side effects and interact with medications.
Acupuncture has also been shown to provide significant and immediate pain relief in some people with osteoarthritis.
Can Imaging Exams Detect Arthritis
Imaging exams can help your healthcare provider get a clear picture of your bones, joints and soft tissues. An X-ray, MRI or ultrasound can reveal:
- Bone fractures or dislocations that may be causing you joint pain.
- Cartilage breakdown around your joints.
- Muscle, ligament or tendon injuries near your joints.
- Soft tissue inflammation.
Read Also: What To Do For Rheumatoid Arthritis In Hands
How Arthritis In The Hands Is Treated
If youre diagnosed with an inflammatory form of arthritis, you have more treatment options than someone with OA. While nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage the pain of both types of arthritis, the development of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics has vastly improved the prognosis of those with inflammatory forms of arthritis by reducing inflammation and preventing further joint damage.
Cortisone injections can be useful for those with OA and conditions such as RA, though theyre usually used in patients whose inflammatory arthritis is limited to just one or two joints, Dr. Byram says. Injections of hyaluronic acid can be helpful for those with OA , but these are better for managing pain in larger joints like the knees rather than the hands.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gout
Gout flares start suddenly and can last days or weeks. These flares are followed by long periods of remissionweeks, months, or yearswithout symptoms before another flare begins. Gout usually occurs in only one joint at a time. It is often found in the big toe. Along with the big toe, joints that are commonly affected are the lesser toe joints, the ankle, and the knee.
Symptoms in the affected joint may include:
- Pain, usually intense
You May Like: What Does Arthritis Do To You
What Do Doctors Do
It’s not always easy for doctors to diagnose JIA right away. JIA itself can have lots of different symptoms, and some infections, like Lyme disease, have similar symptoms to JIA. So doctors will want to rule out any other possibilities before deciding something is JIA.
If a doctor suspects a patient has JIA, he or she will ask about the person’s symptoms, find out if others in the family have had arthritis, and do a complete physical examination to look for joint swelling, eye problems, and rashes. A doctor may do blood tests and X-rays. In some cases, doctors may use a needle to take a sample of synovial fluid from a person’s joint.
Sometimes, a doctor might need to see a patient for several months to determine the particular type of JIA the person has.
What Does Arthritis Feel Like
Arthritis feels like pain in the joints, but theres a lot more to it than just that. In addition to the early signs of arthritis described above, individuals who are in the early stages of developing arthritis may experience general weakness,7 difficulty sleeping,10 loss of appetite,6 and weight loss. It is also common to have dry mouth, dry eyes, eye discharge, or chest pain early-on.
Don’t Miss: Can You Get Rheumatoid Arthritis In Your Back
Types Of Foot And Ankle Arthritis
There are many types of arthritis, but arthritis in the foot and ankle is usually one of three types: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or post-traumatic arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, often called wear and tear arthritis, develops most often in people over age 50. As cartilage gets worn down with use over time, it can result in pain and stiffness in the joint. Osteoarthritis may develop in an isolated joint or areafor example, in one foot and not the other.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body mistakenly attacks its own tissues. This immune response targets soft tissue in the joints called the synovium, resulting in warmth, redness, swelling, stiffness, and pain of the foot and ankle. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis generally develops symmetrically, meaning both feet are affected at the same time.
Post-traumatic arthritis develops in the foot or ankle as a result of injury, even one that occurred long ago. For example, a sprain, fracture, or dislocation in the foot or ankle may damage cartilage, leading to premature deterioration of the joint. Symptoms may appear within a few years, or it may take decades for joint damage to cause pain or limit function.
How Does Arthritis Feel
Arthritis usually causes stiffness pain and fatigue. The severity varies from person to person and even from day to day. In some people only a few joints are affected and the impact may be small. In other people the entire body system may be affected.
The joints of the body are the site of much of the action in arthritis. Many types of arthritis show signs of joint inflammation: swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness or warmth. These joint symptoms may be accompanied by weight loss, fever or weakness.
When these symptoms last for more than two weeks, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause. Joint inflammation may also be caused by infection which can lead to septic arthritis. Degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis joint inflammation is not a prominent feature of this condition. While normal joints can support a vast amount of use, mechanical abnormalities of a joint make it susceptible to degeneration.
It is healthy for you to keep active and move your joints. If you do not move a joint regularly, the muscles around it weaken and/or become tight. The joint can stiffen or even freeze. When you do try to move the joint and muscles hurt because they have been still for so long.
Arthritis can make it hard to do the movements you rely on every day for work or taking care of your family.
Also Check: Does Arthritis Pain Come And Go
Lifestyle Changes That Help Ease Ra Symptoms
In addition to treatment with drugs, the following remedies and lifestyle approaches can help alleviate symptoms at any stage of RA:
Occupational or Physical Therapy Rheumatologists frequently refer patients to occupational or physical therapy practitioners to help patients find ways of moving that are less painful, and that strengthen muscles, says Manno. Decreased movement can cause muscles to atrophy and can reduce a persons cardiovascular fitness.
When To Call Your Doctor
Dr. Cotter urges anyone who experiences sudden symptoms of arthritis to seek medical attention immediately. If left untreated, these symptoms could lead to long-term problems in the joint.
“It is not normal for a joint to suddenly swell, and getting the correct diagnosis is of the utmost importance,” she says. “Early diagnosis and intervention will mean a better outcome.”
Any persistent issues warrant a call to your doctor as well, she says. For example, if you have joint pain without swelling or joint swelling without pain that persists, you should see your doctor for an evaluation.
Don’t Miss: Overcome Arthritis
What Is ‘sudden Arthritis’ Exactly
The term sudden arthritis refers to inflammation and swelling in the joints with a quick onset, Nicole M. Cotter, MD, a physician board-certified in rheumatology and integrative medicine at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
According to the CDC, the primary symptoms of arthritis in general are:
- Redness andstiffness in the joints
Some additional symptoms, such as fever and fatigue, can also occur with arthritis.
There are a few possible explanations when the condition seems to appear out of the blue.
Symptoms By Body Part
The most commonly affected areas during the onset of RA are the small joints in your hands and feet. This is where you may first feel stiffness and an ache.
Its also possible for RA inflammation to affect your knees and hips. Because the disease presents differently in different people, it can go on to affect almost any joint.
Your organs are another area that can be disrupted by RA inflammation:
- Your heart muscle can become damaged.
- Your lungs can become scarred.
- Blood vessel damage can lead to subsequent skin and nerve issues.
You May Like: Stiff Neck Rheumatoid Arthritis
How Is Jia Treated
When JIA is diagnosed early and treated appropriately, it can usually be managed effectively. There’s no cure, but there’s a lot doctors can do to ease the symptoms of JIA and prevent or limit damage to joints.
For some people, taking medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce inflammation. Some patients need to take a weekly medication called methotrexate. Newer medications such as etanercept, adalimumab, abatacept, and tocilizumab can keep the immune system in check and control the disease far better than was possible a few years ago. For arthritis flare-ups, doctors may also use medicines called corticosteroids , but they try to limit these to avoid side effects.
Physical therapy exercises that improve flexibility and the use of heat can help people with JIA control symptoms. It’s rare that joints get damaged in a person’s teens, but surgery can repair damaged joints if needed.
Gout And Calcium Crystal Diseases
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause painful swelling in joints. It typically affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints in the body.
Joints affected by gout can become red and hot. The skin may also look shiny and can peel.
Its caused by having too much urate, otherwise known as uric acid, in the body. We all have a certain amount of urate in our body.
However, being overweight or eating and drinking too much of certain types of food and alcoholic drinks can cause some people to have more urate in their bodies. The genes you inherit can make you more likely to develop gout.
If it reaches a high level, urate can form into crystals that remain in and around the joint. They can be there for a while without causing any problems and even without the person realising they are there.
A knock to a part of the body or having a fever can lead to the crystals falling into the soft part of the joint. This will cause pain and swelling.
There are drugs that can reduce the amount of urate in the body and prevent gout attacks. Examples are allopurinol and . If youre having a gout attack, youll also need short-term pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as paracetamol can be good drugs to try first.
Men can get gout from their mid-20s, and in women its more common after the menopause. Taking water tablets can increase the risk of gout.
There are also conditions that cause calcium crystals to form in and around joints.
Also Check: How To Slow Down Arthritis In Hands
What Are The Less Common Forms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can begin in less common forms. For example, it can begin with the involvement of only a single joint or a few joints. Sometimes, this can later evolve to the more common presentation of many joints on both sides of the body.
- Rarely, the earliest symptom of rheumatoid disease is inflammation of a body area that does not even involve a joint. For example, the lining of the lungs can become inflamed to cause pleurisy many months before arthritis develops.
- Occasionally, only a few joints are involved and the doctor may suspect another type of inflammatory arthritis. Again, this can sometimes only later evolve to become the more typical symmetrical polyarthritis by including many joints on both sides of the body.
- The caveat is that by recognizing the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis rheumatologists and their patients can address the disease early, thereby affording optimal outcomes for those affected.
Arthritis In The Feet And Ankles
Each of your feet contains 30 bones and 28 joints, while each ankle joint contains three major bones that support multiple joints.
Your feet and ankles provide support, shock absorption, balance, and several other functions while you stand, walk, and run.
Several of these joints contain a slippery substance that allows the bones to glide effortlessly during movement. They also have a lining called synovium that reduces friction and lubricates cartilage.
With this disease, the body produces less of these liquids and the joints rub against each other.
Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Arthritis
The following are common symptoms in the feet and ankles:
- Pain with motion and that flares with strenuous activity
- Swelling, redness, or warmth in the joints
- Joints tender to the touch
- Difficulty walking
- Pain and swelling is worse in the morning or after a period of sitting or resting
Recommended Reading: What Makes Rheumatoid Arthritis Worse
Loss Of Joint Function
Because rheumatoid arthritis leads to pain, swelling, and tenderness of the involved joints, there is the loss of joint function. The swelling and sensitivity impede the full motion and stability of the joint and it becomes incapable of carrying the movement with confidence, balance, and completeness.
- This loss of joint function leads to limping, lack of coordination, loss of grip and dexterity, and disability.
What Medications Are Used To Treat Osteoarthritis
The first step with medication is often over-the-counter pain relievers as needed. These include acetaminophen , ibuprofen , and naproxen . Don’t take over-the-counter medications for more than 10 days without checking with your doctor. Taking them longer than that increases the chance of side effects. If over-the-counter treatments aren’t effective, your doctor may decide to prescribe a stronger anti-inflammatory drug or other medication to help ease the pain. Some medications in the form of creams, rubs, or sprays may be applied over the skin of affected areas to relieve pain. For some people with persistent pain despite these pills or creams, steroids can be injected directly into the joint. These injections can be given several times a year, though some experts believe this may ultimately accelerate joint damage.
Injections of hyaluronic acid directly into the knee joint can relieve pain in some people with osteoarthritis.
When osteoarthritis pain is severe and other treatments are not working, some doctors will give stronger pain pills, such as narcotics.
Unfortunately, none of these will reverse or slow the progression of joint damage caused by osteoarthritis.
You May Like: How To Cope With Arthritis
Who Should Diagnose And Treat Gout
The disease should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor or a team of doctors who specialize in care of gout patients. This is important because the signs and symptoms of gout are not specific and can look like signs and symptoms of other inflammatory diseases. Doctors who specialize in gout and other forms of arthritis are called rheumatologists. To find a provider near you, visit the database of rheumatologistsexternal icon on the American College of Rheumatology website. Once a rheumatologist has diagnosed and effectively treated your gout, a primary care provider can usually track your condition and help you manage your gout.
The Connection Between Age And Arthritis
It’s one of the biggest misconceptions about arthritis. Most people believe that arthritis is an old person’s disease and that it is entirely a consequence of aging. If that were the case, arthritis would be inevitable and it’s not.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , arthritis is more common among adults aged 65 years or older, but people of all ages can be affected. “Nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65. Arthritis is more common among women than men in every age group, and it affects members of all racial and ethnic groups. Arthritis is also more common among adults who are obese than among those who are normal weight or underweight.”
Recommended Reading: Reduce Arthritis Swelling In Fingers
Other Possible Causes Of Hand Pain
Hand pain is also a sign of Dupuytrens contracture, a condition in which the tissue of the palm and fingers becomes thickened and tight, causing the fingers to curl inward. Its not clear why Dupuytrens contracture develops, though those who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, and have seizures or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing it.
Your doctor will also consider whether your hand pain could be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, says Dr. Byram. RA can be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, so if we see someone who has carpal tunnel, well want to make sure they dont have RA. Carpal tunnel is a condition that occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand the median nerve is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.