strikes three out of every ten people with arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis
affects not only the joints, but almost every organ in the body as well.
A patient with this form of arthritis can have problems with the skin,
lungs, heart, nerves, kidneys, spleen, eyes, muscles, blood vessels, as
well as the tendons and bursae.
People with rheumatoid
arthritis may initially suffer from early morning pain and stiffness.
The joints may become swollen, hot, or reddened. These symptoms are the
result of inflammation occurring within the body. This inflammation is
the body's way of fighting the arthritis. Unfortunately, after long periods
of uncontrolled inflammation, fatigue and joint damage may occur. Early
diagnosis and treatment may prevent many of the problems associated with
The diagnosis is
only made after a careful study of the symptoms, a comprehensive physical
examination, blood tests, and x-rays. Fortunately, physicians can successfully
control the inflammation and are capable of reducing the pain and discomfort
while working to prevent the deformity associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
are available which reduce inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAID's) are very helpful. These medications are often the first
line of treatment in combating rheumatoid arthritis. Recently a new class
of NSAID's has been developed. These new medications called COX-2 inhibitors,
may have less side effects than their older counterparts. Additionally,
you may be prescribed special exercises, advised on techniques of reduction
of emotional stress, and instructed in a proper diet. All play a major
role in the treatment of arthritis.
Drugs used in the
treatment of rheumatoid arthritis are those which control joint inflammation.
As noted above, initial therapeutic medications are usually non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs. If the arthritis is progressive and not controlled
by these medications, other therapies may be recommended. These therapies
may include the use of gold, Plaquenil (hydroxychloraquine), D-Penicillamine,
Imuran, Cytoxan and Enbrel (Tumor Necrosis Factor Remicade Humira) and Arava
(Lefunomide). No one is certain how these medications work. Nonetheless,
scientific studies have shown that a majority of patients with rheumatoid
arthritis will experience a good to excellent response to these medications.
These medications are called disease-modifying agents because it is believed
to slow the process of rheumatoid arthritis.
of medication has been developed and used in the treatment of rheumatoid
arthritis. These medications are called immunosuppressive agents and include
Imuran, Methotrexate Cytoxan and Arava. These drugs are very powerful
and are usually reserved for patients with rheumatoid arthritis that have
not responded to other forms of treatment. Immunosuppressive therapy is
usually administered under the supervision of a rheumatologist.
These medications have been
developed in the fight against. These drugs have been shown much promise in treating
patients who have not responded to simple "first-line" drugs.
These drug may be used either alone or in combination with methotrexate.
Great advances have been made over recent years in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The days when a patient was in constant pain and confined to a wheelchair with arthritis have past. Powerful new drugs, combined with physical therapy and joint surgery, have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Joint with Arthritis
All medications have potential side effects, risks and interactions with other medications as well as over the counter drugs. Not all medications are right for all patients. You should always check with your physician or health care provider prior to the use of any medication.