If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis you know how devastating it can be. In the past, treatment options were limited and people were often crippled by this disease. Newer rheumatoid arthritis treatment guidelines can help people maintain a better quality of life and manage their symptoms very effectively.
The first step is to consult with a specialist. If you have not done so already, this is a critical step in ensuring that you get the right treatment for your needs. They will be able to look over test results and your medical history as well to make sure that you are dealing with RA and not one of the other related diseases. They will also be able to advise you on some of the medicines which are available that can help you manage your symptoms.
One of the keys to understanding treatment guidelines is to understand exactly what rheumatoid arthritis (also known as RA) actually is. It is caused by the body’s immune system. When this misfires, as it does in RA, it causes damage to the joints. People who have RA find that their joints become swollen, red, warm and painful. As more damage occurs, permanent deformities may result and joints may even become fused and completely unusable. If the immune system can be modified, often the disease’s effects can be slowed or minimized.
You may find that guidelines in this area are centered on several different areas. Some may be related to diet and the nutritional needs that RA sufferers may have. Others relate to medication to treat both the arthritis directly as well as any of the associated health problems that the disease can cause. Still others deal with exercise and how to preserve mobility and range of motion.Treatment guidelines often differ depending on how old a patient is and how severe their symptoms are.
Medication may include analgesics to manage pain and discomfort and anti inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and inflammation. It may also include the use of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD’s). These can lessen the body’s immune response and are showing great promise in helping to slow the progression of the disease in many individuals. Other medications may treat fatigue, depression and the symptoms of secondary medical issues.
You may be surprised to learn that RA patients may often consult with physiotherapists so that they can continue to maintain mobility. Although vigorous exercise may not be a good idea, gentle exercise can actually improve the quality of life that RA sufferers may enjoy and can help to keep their range of motion as great as possible.
Diet is something else which may factor largely in many treatment plans. You may find that you will be placed on a calorie restricted diet in order to lose weight if you are heavy. Excess body weight can cause added strain on the joints. As well, some foods may exaggerate symptoms and make them much worse. These trigger foods may be eliminated as part of your individualized treatment guidelines.
As you can see, rheumatoid arthritis treatment guidelines can be quite varied and complex. By establishing a good health care team that works well together you can have a good quality of life for much longer than you might think possible.
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