Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

by Kelly

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition that affects the joints of the body, especially the hands and knees. It occurs because of an uncontrolled inflammatory response from a malfunctioning immune system. Usually, inflammation occurs whenever a person is injured or bacteria or viruses have entered the body. After the body heals, the inflammation will stop though.

However, if a person has an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the body will begin attacking the healthy tissue in the joints instead of trying to heal them. Luckily, there are several treatment options that can help fight this condition.

Anti-inflammatory Agents

Anti-inflammatory agents are helpful for treating RA because they minimize the inflammation in the body that is attacking the joints. This will reduce some of the symptoms of swelling, pain, and stiffness that people with this condition frequently have. Two of the most common anti-inflammatory agents that doctors prescribe for RA are ibuprofen and sulfasalazine.

Immune System Suppressors

In order to stop the uncontrolled inflammation, doctors sometimes prescribe immune system suppressors to their patients with RA. Some of the best ones are anakinra, tocilizumab, and azathioprine. Interestingly enough, each of these types of medicine has a wide range of benefits besides helping to treat RA, such as the prevention of organ rejection after a transplant and reducing the damage from ulcerative colitis.


Prednisolone, cortisone, or methylprednisolone are all effective steroids that aid in helping the body to repair the joint damage from RA. They can minimize the body’s immune system response too.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often the best medicine for people who have RA. It works by using gentle movements and stretches to increase a person’s flexibility and muscle strength over time. This, in turn, can often help with mobility issues and reduce the joint deformities that this condition frequently causes. In order for physical therapy to be the most effective, it has to be done several times a week though.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists can help RA patients by teaching them ways to use modified equipment to be able to complete their day-to-day tasks. This is crucial for people who have become wheelchair-bound because the condition has damaged their knees so badly. But it can also be helpful for those who are suffering from severe hand deformities that are making eating or dressing themselves more difficult.

Surgical Repair of Joints

If the joint damage that is caused by RA becomes too severe, doctors may have to use a surgical approach to treat a person. The type of surgical procedure that is done will depend on where the joint damage is located and whether or not any of the surrounding tissue is salvageable. For example, some people may need artificial joints implanted while others may be able to have a simple procedure that repairs and cleans up the affected region of the body.

This is just a short list of some of the most common medical treatments used for patients who have RA. While each of them has numerous beneficial properties, each person’s individual health condition is unique. So those who are interested in trying any of the medications or therapies should be sure to talk to their doctor about them to see which ones may be right for them.