Medical Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Years ago, if a person was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) they had a very bleak future ahead of them. They could expect pain, loss of mobility and even a complete loss of bodily function depending on which joints were affected. Deformed joints could make even the simplest everyday tasks seem overwhelmingly difficult. Today though with the recent changes of modern medicine, there are a number of different medications that can be used quite effectively in order to prevent joint deformity and to keep the disease from progressing.

It is important to get an accurate diagnosis before beginning any treatment regimen. There are a number of other diseases that may have some of the same symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis but which will not respond to the same medications.

Seeing a qualified rheumatologist in addition to your regular physician can be a great first step towards treating your disease as effectively as possible.

If testing does show that you have rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to begin treatment in order to avoid damage to the joints. Joint damage can occur quite quickly and often takes place in the first six months after the disease has become active. There are several different families of medications that are used to treat RA and you might find that you may end up taking one or more of these medications at the same time.

Analgesics: One of the most basic types of medications used to treat RA and other forms of arthritis are analgesics. These are medications that can help keep you comfortable and free of pain. Depending on the severity of your condition they can range from mild (such as acetaminophen) to very strong (such as natural or synthetic opioids).

Anti-Inflammatories: Anti-Inflammatory medications are also used to treat RA and other forms of arthritis. Because the damage to the joints is caused by inflammation, being able to calm and reduce the level of inflammation can be invaluable. These may not always work but they are often included as part of an overall drug regimen.

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs): This is a relatively new group of medications that are showing great promise in treating RA. They work by changing the body’s immune system so that it does not attack the joints. They are often given once or twice weekly in the form of a needle or injection. These medications do have some side effects. They can make a person much more susceptible to infections and colds and can also cause liver damage in some cases.

Gold Therapy: Gold salts were originally used to treat RA but they are used much less rarely these days. Many times they have been replaced by DMARDs although they are still an alternative if DMARDs do not appear to be having any effect on the progression of a person’s disease.

It is important to realize that not everyone is able to tolerate the same medications. It is also important to remember that it may take several different combinations before someone may find a combination that works for them.

By visiting your doctor and working with them it can be much easier to maintain good health and keep your disease under control for as long as possible.

Cole Watts writes on behalf of A1 Medical Supplies. A1 Medical Supplies one of the largest online suppliers of medical equipment for the home including lift chairs,  wheelchair lifts, and vertical platform lifts.

Cole Watts

Cole Watts writes on behalf of US Medical Supplies, an online retailer of medical equipment and mobility aides.

8 thoughts on “Medical Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • October 5, 2010 at 10:40 am

    What’s great is that you can buy Omega-3 supplements in many countries over the counter, so it’s very easy to “kill” the RA.

  • September 27, 2010 at 7:46 am

    I did not know about the Omega 3 information.
    Thanks for the heads up, guys!

    • September 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm

      Lois, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that omega-3 fatty acid supplements are a good option to consider for those who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis.

      • September 26, 2010 at 10:21 pm

        Dan, I’ll have to review omega-3 fatty acids in some areas again. Dr. Berardi suggests that omega-3 fatty acids are good for elbow pain.

        In the recent past, I extensively researched supplements for treating osteoarthritis.

        At that time, there were studies supporting the use of omega-3 fatty acids for rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease), but not for osteoarthritis (most common, wear and tear type of arthritis).

        Just taking a quick scan through the literature, it looks like not much has changed:

        “We cannot recommend use of vitamin E alone; vitamins A, C, and E in combination; ginger; turmeric; or Zyflamend (New Chapter, Brattleboro, Vermont) for the treatment of OA or RA or omega-3 fatty acids for OA.”

        There are anecdotal reports of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for tennis elbow as well, but no research supporting their use as far as I’m aware.

        There was a Norwegian study in 2005 that didn’t find omega-3 fatty acids to be effective for treating tennis elbow.

        Here’s a good summary of evidence for omega-3 fatty acid supplementation:

  • September 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    As per recent trends, methotrexate and sulfasalazine are some of the leading drugs used for RA. If any doctor is treating you without them, its time for you to change the doctor for sure.

    • December 19, 2010 at 10:47 pm

      I was on methotrexate but have been taken off it as it is considered to cause chest infection.


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