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How is Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Joints Treated?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 23 February 2020
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Rheumatoid arthritis of the joints is treated using a number of different techniques. Medication, ranging from over-the-counter pain killers to steroids and anti-rheumatic drugs, can often be used to control the symptoms. Physical therapy is also important because strengthening the muscles surrounding a joint can decrease the amount of stress and strain it is subjected to. Surgery for rheumatoid arthritis of the joints is also relatively common. Alternative therapies such as massage and visiting a chiropractor are sometimes used, although these are not yet proven to be effective for this condition.

To start with, rheumatoid arthritis of the joints is usually treated using medication. Painkillers can help make the pain more manageable, but don't reduce inflammation in the joint. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. If over-the-counter medicine isn't strong enough, sometimes a steroid injection may be used to help reduce the swelling and stiffness.

Anti-rheumatic drugs, such as methotrexate, can be prescribed to help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the joints and slow its progression. A problem is that arthritis causes substances to be released into the surrounding tissue which can damage the body. Anti-rheumatic drugs can prevent this from happening and at the same time reduce symptoms.

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Medication is only part of the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis of the joints. Physical therapy can also help to reduce pain and improve general fitness. A physiotherapist will provide an exercise program to increase the strength of muscles around the joint, which can help support the injured area. Flexibility and general fitness will also experience improvements.

If medication and physical therapy for rheumatoid arthritis of the joints fail to bring the symptoms to a manageable level, or if there is a lot of damage to the joint, then surgery may be required. The least invasive type of surgery is an arthroscopy. This procedure involves small instruments inserted into the joint through two incisions. In some cases, a full replacement of a large joint, such as the knee or hip, may be required. This is a major procedure that requires an extended stay in hospital.

There are a number of alternative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis of the joints. Some include massage of the muscles around the joint, chiropractic treatment, and dietary supplements. There is no evidence that these treatments are effective, although many people find that they can provide some relief from symptoms.

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