of rheumatoid arthritis focuses on managing the effects of the disease.
The goals of rheumatoid arthritis treatment programs are 3:
- control joint damage
- prevent loss of function
- decrease pain
The first stage of treatment starts with education. It is important for
the patient to learn about the disease and the possibilities of joint
damage and loss of function, and to learn about the benefits and risks
of various treatments 3.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis might work with several types of
allied health professionals, including, physical therapists,
occupational therapists, social workers, and patient educators.
Herbal medicines may help improve some of the symptoms of rheumatoid
arthritis. In a randomized, controlled study, evening primrose and
olive oil reduced pain and morning stiffness 51. Feverfew and cabbage leaf significantly improve grip strength in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis 51. In addition, capsaicin cream, made from cayenne peppers, can reduce pain 51.
Exercise in a temperate pool can reduce feelings of stiffness and load
on the joints while providing the benefit of significantly improved
muscle endurance in upper and lower extremities 4.
Most patients with newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis will begin
taking a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) within 3 months
of their diagnosis 3. DMARDS help to prevent the joint damage which often occurs early in rheumatoid arthritis.
Some examples of DMARDs include:
addition to DMARDS, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS),
glucocortoid joint injections, and prednisone may be used to control
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis may involve combinations of
several types of medications, in order to reduce side effects and
provide the greatest degree of symptom relief 3.
The removal of an arthritic or damaged joint and replacement with a
prosthesis is called total joint replacement 2.
During this procedure, a surgeon removes the damaged bone and cartilage
and replaces them with metal and plastic pieces that fit into the joint
to restore movement and function 2. The new joint pieces may or may not be cemented to the bone 38.
Younger, more active individuals are usually treated with non-cemented
joints allowing their bones to grow into the new prosthesis 38.
Joint replacement has a 90 percent success rate 38. Complications may occur following surgery, however, most are treatable 38.
Continuous passive motion treatment is used as a means of enhancing
collagen tissue healing following total knee arthroplasty. However,
study results suggest that continuous passive motion treatment does not
favor better range of motion at the knee following total knee