Treatment Options For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a health condition in which joints become affected, causing inflammation and pain. The cause behind this is malfunctioning of the immunity system, wherein it mistakenly considers joint lining as a foreign element adverse to the body and starts attacking it.
Symptoms of RA
The first time that you will experience any symptoms of this disease is in the joints. This first symptom can take a couple of weeks or even months to show after the disease has started creeping into the body.
Though it is seen in the hands at first, it slowly moves to other parts of the body such as the elbow, feet, hips, shoulders, neck etc. Spread of the disease happens in a symmetrical pattern and though rare, it can affect the joints of your voice box, making your voice horse.
- Swollen and painful joints
- Tenderness in joints
- Weight loss
- Stiffness in joint after period of inactivity
- Warm sensation in the joints
In addition to these symptoms, you can also experience poor appetite and depression. If you experience any of the above symptoms, contact a doctor right away. Another problem that can be experienced is rheumatoid nodules, which are bumps under the skin, not painful but much visible.
Treatment options for Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are various forms of treatment for arthritis, but what is administered is based in the patient’s age and the progression of the disease. Each patient is unique so what works out for one patient might do so for another.
It is indeed a challenge to find out which single medication or combination of medications is best for treating a person suffering from RA.
Best treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
Here is a look at the five different forms of treating the disease and how each one works.
NASAIDS primary purpose is to reduce inflammation which will in turn decrease pain and improve body functioning. They do this by blocking the patient’s ‘COX’ enzymes, which create prostaglandins, the substance causing inflammation and pain.
However a point to be noted about this type of medications is that they are unable to prevent the diseases from spreading and causing extensive damage to the joint or change its course.
Since their main feature is only to alleviate pain and inflammation, they are taken in combination with other medications to reduce the effects of RA. It is also a very temporary form of treatment and one that should be taken for a short period.
They can be availed as over the counter drugs as ibuprofen, naproxen as well as over the counter drugs such as meloxicam, choline magnesium salicylate, nabumetone etc. These medications should be taken two to three times a day after food. Some are available in the form of cream which can be applied on the skin.
Another form of treatment is through Corticosteroids, a steroidal medication, that can bring down inflammation, stiffness, bone and cartilage deterioration and reduce the damage done to the immunity system.
Their key feature is their ability to protect joints and body organs from getting further damaged by the disease. When it was first discovered in 1949, it was considered to be a great breakthrough in RA treatment.
Some of the Corticosteroids used in treatment include Methylprednisolone, Prednisone, Dexamethasone and Triamcinolone. They can be administered through intravenous, intra-auricular or intramuscular injection and also taken as pills.
Disease-Modulating Anti-Rheumatic Drugs
It is to be noted that this medication is taken usually alongside with Disease-Modulating Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs), the primary reason being that DMARDs can take a couple of weeks to show their effect.
However in the mean time the disease must be brought under control, which is done effectively using Corticosteroids. It is also prescribed when the patient expresses painful flare-ups of inflammation or in the case of sudden inflammation and pain relief.
It is most useful to administer to those patients who do not respond well to DMARDs. It is also given when inflammation symptoms are so severe that they affect heart and blood vessels.
Examples of DMARds used for treating RA include sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine, which can be prescribed along with methotrexate. These medications are particularly useful as they cut down the progress of severe rheumatoid arthritis and show definite results in stopping join damage.
Biologics For Rheumatoid Arthritis
These are drugs which have been genetically engineered and they work by blocking cytokines which are proteins that make the immunity system show response.
It is highly recommended for patients who are unable to get treated with just DMARDs. They are administered by injection under the skin else through intravenuous infusion, so it will take some time to get the drug into the system.
They unlike DMARDs do not target the entire immunity system, just a part of the inflammatory process. One of the main aspects of biologics for rheumatoid arthritis is that you can begin to see its effect in just four to six weeks unlike DMARDs which can take about months to show the same thing.
Biologics fall into four different categories, which include t-cell inhibitors, lnterleukin inhibitors, tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, and b-cell inhibitors. Examples of biologic medication or injections given to patients induce Huimira, Remcade and Enbriel.
Janus Kinase (JAK)
It is an oral drug used to treat the disease and it is used for those people who fail to respond to biologics. Tofacitinib is the first Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor drugs administered to patients who did not respond to methotrexate, a biologics drug.
JAK inhibitors work by blocking enzymes belonging to the JK family, which is responsible for cell signaling that causes inflammation and immunity responses as what is seen in rheumatoid arthritis.
Each of these forms of treatment has their own processes and it is best to know what they are so that you can find out what type of effect they have. Your physician will determine which treatment process is best based on various factors and can put you onto any single one or a combination of them to get the best results.