Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes significant amounts of pain and discomfort. While there is no cure for the condition, certain treatments can be used to decrease the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, and minimize the symptoms as much as possible. In addition to pain medications and anti-rheumatic drugs, some of the most common treatments for rheumatoid arthritis of the feet include the use of heat and cold, specific types of exercise, and the use of various diet supplements. The primary care physician supervising the care of a patient suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should always be made aware of any alternative therapies used in the treatment of the condition in order to achieve optimal results.
In most cases, rheumatoid arthritis is treated with a number of different types of drugs. Both over-the-counter and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve the pain and swelling caused by rheumatoid arthritis of the feet. Corticosteroids can also be used to reduce inflammation, and these drugs can also help regulate the immune system, which plays a role in the disease. Another type of medication, called disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS), can help improve both the symptoms of the disease and slow the rate at which damage is done.
The use of heat and cold are two common forms of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis of the feet. Hot baths and heating pads are often used to aid in muscle relaxation and increased blood flow, both of which can be beneficial for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis of the feet. In addition, cold compresses or ice baths may also be effective at decreasing the symptoms of the condition. Cold therapies have been found to be most successful in decreasing swelling, which is a classic sign of rheumatoid arthritis. Cold compresses and ice baths should be avoided, however, by those who suffer from circulatory problems, as they can further exacerbate the problem.
Some types of exercise have also been found to be highly successful as a form of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis of the feet. Tai chi, which is an exercise that focuses on stretching and breathing techniques, has been found to provide great results. Other similar exercises that focus on stress reduction may also prove equally effective. High amounts of cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or jogging, should be avoided as it puts excessive stress on the feet and can lead to increased symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Certain supplements also appear to be effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis of the feet. For example, gamma-linolenic acid is a type of fatty acid typically found in plants that may decrease arthritic pain and stiffness. Fish oil supplements have also been found to act similarly. In addition, some herbs and spices, such as ginger and curcumin, may be helpful when made into a tea and consumed by those suffering from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the feet. Over-the-counter supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin may decrease signs and symptoms of the condition.