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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Reviewed by

Team Resolve

February 26, 2022

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Treatment 

In the past few decades, treatment options for Rheumatoid arthritis have improved drastically. Even though there is no absolute cure for this disease; there are drugs which can relieve symptoms and prevent further damage to the joints. Primary medical management starts with drugs called DMARDS- Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs like Methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine etc. These drugs reduce symptoms, slow disease progression and improve the quality of life as well! Along with primary DMARD therapy, NSAIDS like aspirin are prescribed for alleviating pain. Apart from pharmacological management, physical and mental therapy is also recommended for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Table of Contents

Treatment at Home

The key player in treatment of any disease is the affected individual. It is important for individuals to engage in the treatment to improve its efficacy. Under the guidance of professionals, a wide range of therapies can be applied by the individual at the comfort of their home.

Alongside treatment, rehabilitation and lifestyle changes are indispensable to battle a disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis and limit the damage to body as well as life. Small steps taken at home itself can work wonders in the treatment of this disease and improve the quality of life of an affected individual.

Nutritional Changes

  • Decreased intake of oily foods, food with high salt content, sugar, butter etc. They are implicated in worsening of inflammation in the joints.
  • Increased intake of foods rich in minerals and vitamins which promote healing and repair of the body tissues.
  • Supplements of Cod liver oil, Omega-3 help reduce the inflammation of the joints as well.

Adequate Rest

  • Inarguably the most important thing to keep in mind while undergoing treatment for Rheumatoid arthritis is to ensure adequate rest.
  • Relaxing the joints and making a conscious effort to not exert the limbs helps prevent further damage to the body.

Hot and Cold Therapy

  • Hot therapy: Application of heat on the affected joints for 10 minutes twice a day can help relieve pain and regain the agility in the movements.
  • Cold Therapy: Application of ice packs help reduce the swelling and the redness around the joints, preventing any further damage to the joints.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

The course of Rheumatoid Arthritis has two broad phases- an active phase (also called ‘flare up’) with all the symptoms and an inactive phase where for some while, there is a regression in the symptoms. It is important to customize and personalize therapy according to these phases to prevent worsening of the disease progression.

  • Stretching: Stretch all the joints gently and move them in the entire range of motion. For example, wiggle your fingers, rotate your wrist, flex your elbow and rotate your shoulders. Repeat this cycle for the other limb. This helps in preventing stiffness and works on the mobility of the joints.
  • Massage: Massage the affected joints daily. This helps in stimulating the tissues and increases blood flow.
  • Strengthening exercises: This disease severely affects the strength of the muscles and compromises the quality of life. Strengthening exercised help restore the agility and build up power in your tissues. For example- Squeeze a foam ball to strength the joints of the hand, make figure 8s in the air with wrist rotations etc.
  • Aerobic Exercises: These exercises require active participation and can include brisk walks around the neighbourhood, cycling, swimming etc.

Disclaimer

The above-mentioned remedies and medicines; are over the counter medicines (most of them) and are effective in most cases. It is advisable to contact the doctor before taking any medications.

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