Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an inflammatory disease. It leads to swelling, pain, stiffness, and loss of movements in the joints of the body. One of the main causes of this condition is the malfunctioning of the immune system of the body, as it starts attacking the membrane linings of the joints instead of defending the body. One should always consult a doctor in the case they are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. This is essential as a proper and timely diagnosis will help with starting a treatment plan.
Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary from person to person, and it can range from mild to severe. For most people, the condition turns out to be chronic and often lasts for a lifetime. For certain people the symptoms remain constant throughout; however, for others, the intensity of the symptoms varies from time to time.
How is the treatment plan decided?
Doctors use a variety of methods to treat rheumatoid arthritis. These treatment options are administered to the affected individual through various combinations and sessions depending on the condition. Most of the time, the treatment plans are curated on the basis of the individual’s condition.
Communication is key and treatment is effective only if the patient is completely honest with their doctors. The patient should make a note of all the flare-ups and other symptoms and report them to the doctor as it would be important to devise an effective treatment plan for rheumatoid arthritis. A few common doctor-recommended options have been listed below that can help in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Change in lifestyle and behavior
There are different changes that one can make from their side to help improve and manage their condition. Some of the common options have been listed as follows:
Make sure to exercise and rest: Finding the perfect balance between the exercise and rest is the key. One should try to rest more during the intense flare-ups of the condition and exercise more when that phase passes by. Rest is needed as it reduces active joint pain and inflammation and helps combats fatigue.
Taking care of the joints: Some people find that splints help them a lot in reducing the pain and swelling around the joint. This is mainly due to the fact that they help the joint rest by providing support to them. A doctor can help the affected individual in selecting the perfect splint.
Try reducing stress: A lot of people suffering from this disease not only face physical challenges but experience a lot of emotional trauma as well. Due to chronic pain and loss of movements in the body, affected individuals may experience intense emotions such as anger or frustration as a result of missing out on performing various activities. Hence, it is important that patients with rheumatoid arthritis control their stress levels so that it does not add up to the existing pain.
Follow a nutritious diet plan: Consuming an overall nutritious diet inclusive of the required amounts of protein, calcium, and calories helps in managing the condition. When it comes to maintaining a diet for rheumatoid arthritis, almost everything is allowed except certain kinds of oil such as olive oil and fish oil.
Using medications: Doctors prescribe some types of medicines to everyone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis to help manage the symptoms. Doctors may recommend analgesics for pain relief, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation. Few people also use DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) that would help in reducing the time span of the condition.
Biologic response modifiers (BRM)
Currently, there are seven types of biologic response modifiers that can be used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. These response modifiers work in several ways. Four of the biologic response modifiers, golimumab, etanercept, adalimumab, and infliximab help in reducing the inflammation by either blocking the immune system protein or tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
Abatacept: This biologic response modifier is known to inhibit production of T cells by limiting the particular chemical that produces it. Hence, it reduces the inflammation, as T cells ultimately cause inflammation.
Rituximab: This helps to stop the activation of B cells and restricts the overall activity of the immune system.
Anakinra: This blocks a chemical known as interleukin-1 (IL-1) that are seen to be in excess in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Surgical treatment options
There are different types of surgical options available for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Surgery may not be suited for everyone and one, who has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, should discuss this option with their doctor before moving ahead with it. A few common surgical treatment options have been listed as follows:
Joint replacement surgery: This surgery involves removing a part of or all of the damaged joint and replacing it with synthetic hybrid components. One of the most commonly replaced joints is that of the knees and hips. Post-surgery, one can expect improved motor functions and experience effective pain relief.
Various other surgical methods include arthrodesis, synovectomy, and tendon reconstruction.
Just like any other disease or condition, before starting with the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, one should discuss the pros and cons with their doctor. If the doctor agrees with a treatment option and does not see any harm in it, feel free to carry on. The important thing to note here is that one should never neglect regular health checkups and keep their doctor updated with all the latest developments concerning the disorder.