Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis: What You Should Know

Posted on: 26 May 2020

If you have recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you may feel somewhat relieved to have answers but also confused and concerned about what this means for the future. Rheumatoid arthritis is different from some other forms of arthritis in that it is an autoimmune disorder, and it is the most common form of autoimmune arthritis. An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body essentially is attacking itself. The immune system that is supposed to attack intruders goes after the body's own cells. While this can sound scary, there are treatment options available to help with rheumatoid arthritis. Get to know some of these treatments and then, you can discuss your options with your doctor.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

One of the first lines of defense against rheumatoid arthritis is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications can be both over-the-counter varieties and prescription drugs. Trying to take ibuprofen or other similar drugs to manage your pain and inflammation may be something you have already tried before getting a diagnosis though. In such cases, you may need to go with another line of treatment. 

Steroid Injections

Another treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis is to get steroid medications injected directly into the affected joints. This can help to further reduce inflammation and lead to extended periods of pain and discomfort relief. However, many people like to shy away from steroid injections because they can be painful themselves. And, while lasting longer than doses of NSAIDs, they are not a permanent solution to pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Autoimmune Therapies

Another medication option is something known as an autoimmune therapy or an immunosuppressant drug. These medications are designed to block activities in the immune system that could be causing it to attack the cells in the body.

There are a few different types of immunosuppressant drugs used in treating rheumatoid arthritis. The first is known as DMARDs, and they have been shown to actually slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, helping patients delay a worsening of symptoms. These drugs are full immunosuppressants meaning they suppress the entire immune system. 

Newer drugs have also been designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs block part of the immune system and work by targeting certain immune system activities. If effective, these may be preferable because they leave a person less immunocompromised and less susceptible to developing infections and other complications.

Knowing these three types of treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis, you can sit down with your doctor and discuss which options would be best for you.

For more information about autoimmune disease therapy, contact a doctor.