There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis.
The goal of rheumatoid arthritis treatment is to reduce the pain and limit the
progression of the disease to prevent joint damage and avoid any permanent impairment.
Treating Your Symptoms
Not everyone with RA will have the same symptoms, and the same treatment is not effective for everyone.
Your doctor will monitor and adjust your treatment by following your symptoms. He will ask you about how much pain and swelling you are having.
How Active are You?
He will ask about your activity and how well you are able to function at work or school.
Periodically he will order x-rays or other imaging studies to evaluate your joints to see if they are being damaged or if the damage is getting worse.
Finding a Treatment Plan
Once you have a clear diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis you can begin considering treatment options. Every case is different and a responsible treatment plan will begin with whatever treatment is likely to have the most benefit and the least risk.
Understanding the risks of treatment
enables you to participate in your care.
The first First line of treatment begins with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
More aggressive treatment begins with disease disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
If DMARDs are not having the desired effect your doctor may prescribe a Biologic.
Corticosteroid therapies can be very effective but they also have side effects that may be severe.
All Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments Have Risks
All treatments carry the risk of side effects and drug interactions with other medications that you may be taking. These risks should be discussed with your doctor who knows your medical history and can help you understand how these risks relate to you.
NSAIDs to Reduce Inflammation and Swelling
Anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can be very effective rheumatoid arthritis treatment. They can relieve pain by reducing inflammation and swelling. They do this by inhibiting enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2) that play a role in producing the inflammation.
Unfortunately, these same enzymes play a role in protecting the lining of your stomach from the stomach acid that helps to break down your food. Suppressing these enzymes can lead to stomach ulcers and bleeding in some people. However, other people are able to take NSAIDs without developing any problems.
Your Medical History Matters
NSAIDs may also affect the function of your kidneys. People with renal failure should not take anti-inflammatories and your doctor will want to monitor your kidney function when you are taking them.
Even though these medications are available over the counter you should discuss them with your doctor before starting any new medicine.