Arthritis is a disease that causes pain in the joints, making them lose their movement. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system begins attacking the lining of the joints, leading to bone and joint damage. When this happens, rheumatoid arthritis can result in chronic pain, loss of function and disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis goes through two stages. In the early stage, the joint tissues are being destroyed by the disease. In the chronic stage, the damage to the joint is retained, and this may affect the daily activities of the patient.
When rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed early, joint inflammation and pain are reduced, joint function is maximized and joints are prevented from becoming deformed. Treatment of this disease is dependent on its stage, patient occupation and age, and his general health. Some patients need fast-acting drugs like aspirin and cortisone. Others need slow-acting disease-modifying, anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDS like gold, methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine.
Some patients may be suffering more than others. Whichever condition the case may be, there are specific therapies and medications for each degree or stage. Rest, pain and anti-inflammatory medications are enough to manage some cases. But generally, patients that are treated as soon as possible with DMARDS recover faster and develop minimal disability and joint destruction. There are patients that need a combination of anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory drugs, while others, whose joints are severely deformed, need surgery.
Programs that can help patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis have been developed and laid down by scientists, and these can help patients eventually control the disease. If you or your loved one are suffering from this disease, either in the early stage or in the chronic stage, these tips may work for you:
- Avoid any stressful activities that will tire you unnecessarily. Avoid damaging the joints that have been affected by the disease. Make sure that you take enough rest. If this means reducing the amount of activities that you used to do, then do so.
- Adjust your lifestyle and activities to the physical disability that comes along with rheumatoid arthritis. Psychological acceptance and adjustment will help you map out your plans for the future.
- Relieve the pain through application of dry heat to the affected parts of your body. If you frequently take aspirin as a pain reliever, have yourself checked for anemia regularly.
- Go through therapeutic exercises with the aim of keeping the affected muscles, bones, and joints in good condition. The exercises will also help you maintain an overall sense of wellness.
- Maintain a well-balanced diet, which includes a lot of vegetables and fruits. This will help provide the nutrients necessary for good health and for a general feeling of wellness.
- For advanced cases of rheumatoid arthritis, patients should undergo intensive physical and occupational therapy, utilize splints and other orthopedic devices to help prevent or reduce deformities, take more powerful pain relievers and, in severe cases, undergo orthopedic surgery.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a very painful disease. Although there is no cure for this disease, the different medications and therapies will provide much relief from the pain and discomfort. Whichever treatment the patient chooses, support from his family and his doctors is needed for it to be a success.