Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments

Rheumatologist discusses new treatment with patientThere is no singular cure for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  However, there are a numerous drugs available to treat the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.  Additionally, physical and occupational therapies, medical surgeries and weight loss can contribute to the relief RA joint pain. if you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, than you may be interested in enrolling in one of our RA clinical trials in DeLand, FL.

The following are treatments available for rheumatoid arthritis:

Corticosteroids

  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Slow the progression of joint damage
  • Corticosteroid drugs include prednisone and methylprenisolone
  • Adminisered orally or by needle intramuscularly or intravenously into the aching joint
  • Deliver rapid treatment
  • Side effects include: weight gain, increased blood sugar, cataracts, increased blood pressure, diabetes, thinning of the bones, redness in the cheeks, widened neck and accelerated osteoporosis

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

  • Used to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Mild forms of NSAIDs include over-the-counter ibuprofin (advil and motrin) and naproxen (aleve)
  • More potent forms available by prescription
  • Do not preclude joint damage
  • Do not inhibit or slow the worsening condition of RA
  • Treatment begins working a few days after it has begun
  • Side effects include: gastrointestinal irritation, ulcers, burning and bleeding; ringing in the ears; liver damage; kidney damage; edema; increased blood pressure and heightened risk of cardiovascular disease

Immunosuppressants

  • Take control of the immune system by suppressing its damaging course of action
  • Immunosuppressants include: cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), azathioprine (Azasan and Imuran) and cyclosporine (Neoral, Gengraf and Sandimmune)
  • Side effects include: susceptibility to infection, itching, harsh abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms such as headache, sore throat and runny nose

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)

  • Slow the progression of RA
  • Limit the damage done to the tissues and joints
  • DMARDs include: hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), minocycline (Dynacin and Minocin), golimumab (Simponi), methotrexate (Trexall), tocilizumab (Actemra), etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), anakinra (Kineret), rituximab (Rituxan) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
  • May take a few weeks for DMARDs treatment to take effect
  • Side effects of DMARDs include: lung infections, liver damage and inhibition of bone marrow

Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-alpha inhibitors

  • Reduce joint pain
  • Reduce joint tenderness
  • Reduce morning joint stiffness
  • Reduce joint swelling characterized
  • TNF-alpha inhibitors include: golimumab (Simponi), etanercept (Enbrel), certolizumab (Cimzia) and adalimumab (Humira)
  • Side effects include: increased risk of specific cancers, heart failure and lethal bodily infections

Surgery

  • Performed to replace joints
  • Performed to insert prosthesis
  • Can perform joint fusion
  • Can repair damaged tendons surrounding arthritic joint

Analgesic Drugs (chronic narcotic therapies)

  • Alternative treatment option for those patients who have severe arthritic pain and joint destruction and are not candidates for surgical treatment
  • Do not reduce inflammation
  • Do not slow disease progression
  • Side effects include: impaired mental status, addiction and constipation.                                               

Maintaining a healthy body weight, eating healthily and engaging in athletic activities are also key steps of treatment for RA.  Additionally, learning pain management techniques to learn to handle arthritic pain is very helpful.  It is important to breath through the pain you may experience so that adequate oxygen can be delivered throughout the body and to the aching joints to supply them with some relief, so learning breathing and coping techniques can also be very useful in treating rheumatic symptoms.  For those who have impaired function of their joints, occupational and physical therapy can be a fundamental course of treatment.

There is a treatment plan that can be designed for your personal case, overall physical health, treatment preferences and lifestyle.  Talk with your doctor to plan the best course of action to remedy your case of RA.  RA may be painful, but it doesn’t have to take over your life.

 

Clinical Trial Indications