Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause a variety of debilitating symptoms, such as joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue, that can significantly interfere in your daily life. It can also cause lasting damage to multiple parts of your body, such as your nerves, skin, and heart. However, several approaches to treatment can help relieve your symptoms and reduce the severity of these long-term effects.
Medication is a common element of treatment for people who are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, though which ones are prescribed by your doctor will depend on the nature and severity of your symptoms.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are typically among the first medications prescribed to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis
- Biologics are used to reduce inflammation by targeting certain parts of the immune system that contribute to it
- Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors block enzymes that signal inflammatory and immune responses in cells
- Analgesics reduce pain in people who cannot take NSAIDs, but do not reduce inflammation
- Corticosteroids are strong anti-inflammatory drugs that may be given while slow-acting medications begin to take effect
Exercise is also often beneficial for people living with rheumatoid arthritis. Many people diagnosed with this condition work with a physical therapist, who can create an effective exercise program that improves your strength and mobility. A physical therapist can also teach you techniques for relieving pain, ways of moving that prevent further physical damage, and exercises that you can perform on your own outside of scheduled sessions.
If other treatments are not providing adequate relief or offering significant improvement, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery. This most often involves hip and knee replacements, which can be effective for people with rheumatoid arthritis, but other affected joints may also be replaced for improved mobility and pain relief. Joint replacement surgery may also be followed up by physical therapy, which can help you learn how to stay mobile without causing damage to your joint replacements or surrounding parts of your body.
You can receive treatment for rheumatoid arthritis at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Division of Rheumatology. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-6742.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.