The treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis has come a long way. From medications to therapies to immune system modulators, there are options available aplenty to get rid of the pain and discomfort caused due to this ailment. Read out more about how you can soothe your inflamed joints and muscles with the help of an apt solution if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis…
First thing first, what is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can cause joint pain and damage throughout the body. It is a long-term or chronic disease indicated by symptoms of inflammation and pain in the joints. These symptoms and signs occur during time periods known as flares. Other times are known as periods of remission — this is when rheumatoid arthritis symptoms dissipate completely.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms that can occur throughout the body and can range from mild to severe. Among its most common symptoms are:
- joint pain
- joint tenderness or swelling
- joint stiffness
- loss of joint function
It is common knowledge that while its symptoms can come and go but what one needs to keep in mind is that while the pain and discomfort may start from your joint and muscle area; as the disease progresses it starts affecting other parts of the body as well. These non-joint structures mostly being eyes, heart, lungs, nerve tissue, bone marrow, blood vessels and even kidneys.
Rheumatoid arthritis treatment
No matter what treatment you opt for, the goal of each would be the same: to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation in the joints, improve mobility and enable you to function properly. A talk with your doctor will help you determine the pros and cons of each treatment available at your disposal and hence make the right choice.
Here are few effective treatments or therapies that your doctor may suggest you to help you lead a normal and pain free life:
- Lifestyle changes:
Maintaining a positive outlook and bringing about drastic changes in your lifestyle and behaviour towards health can go a long way in helping you reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis on your everyday life. Practicing a good balance between rest and exercise will help fight fatigue and reduce active joint inflammation. Reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, and taking care of your joints can prevent or reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis on your body.
Medication is usually prescribed to people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis in order to reduce incidents of pain and inflammation and prevent further joint damage. Many a times, a combination of one or two medicines is often recommended to help the problem of pain in different parts of the body. Drugs like DMARDs are commonly used to try slow down the course of the disease. But because the drugs used for the treatment are known to be strong, it is best advised to take them only when the pain is unbearable or causing grave discomfort.
For those with severe joint pain or damage, different kinds of surgery options are now available. The main purpose of going under the knife is to reduce pain, improve the functioning of the affected joint and help the person get on with their life in a normal way. But a surgery must be opted for after careful consideration and in consultation with a good doctor. Some of the most common surgeries that are performed on the patients of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Joint replacement: replacing the damaged part with a synthetic component. Many minimally-invasive surgery options are available nowadays, making the procedure absolutely safe & easy to undergo.
- Tendon reconstruction: Rheumatoid arthritis treatment also includes reconstructing the damaged tendons in the wrists, ankle, legs, knees etc., by attaching an intact tendon to it. It enables the joints to function properly and improve their movement.
- Synovectomy: Another well-known rheumatoid arthritis treatment, it is a part of the reconstructive surgery where the inflamed synovial tissue is removed for pain relief and management purposes.
- Physiotherapy: Not looking for surgery as an option? Physiotherapy at home for rheumatoid arthritis treatment can make your day-to-day life easy. It will help you move better, manage your pain effectively, improve muscle strength and increase your functional capacity. With the help of programs designed especially keeping your individual problems in mind, you will be able to address issues related to your flexibility, mobility, bone integrity, balance and risk falls among others. A combination of massage therapy, exercise therapy and joint protection therapy can help improve muscular endurance without causing detrimental effect on any other part of the body.
A physiotherapy treatment program for rheumatoid arthritis usually has two components:
- Passive physical therapy to help reduce the patient’s pain
- Active exercises
- Passive Physiotherapy
In these therapies, the physiotherapist may focus on decreasing pain with passive physical therapies like:Heat/ice packs
Heat and/or ice are easily available and they together help reduce muscle spasm and inflammation. Some patients find more pain relief with heat therapy using heat packs and others with cold therapy such as ice massage. The two may also be alternated. They are generally applied for 10-20 minutes once every two hours, and are more useful early on (the first few days) in the course of an episode of pain.
TENS Units for Electrotherapy
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) unit uses electrical stimulation to modulate the sensation of low back pain by overriding the painful signals that are sent to the brain. A trial of electrotherapy with the TENS unit is usually done first, and if the patient experiences substantial pain relief, a TENS unit may be used at home for pain relief on a long-term basis.
Lontophoresis is a means of delivering steroids through the skin. The steroids then produce an anti-inflammatory effect in the general area that is causing pain. This treatment is especially effective in relieving acute episodes of pain.
Ultrasound is a form of deep heating in which sound waves are applied to the skin and penetrate into the soft tissues. Ultrasound is especially useful in relieving acute episodes of pain and may enhance tissue healing.
2. Active Physiotherapy (exercises)
In addition to passive therapies, active physical therapy for rheumatoid arthritis patients is also necessary. Generally, a patient’s exercise program should include stretching exercises for all the relevant muscle groups along with core strengthening exercises. Patients must learn these exercises from their therapists and practice regularly at home. This is an important part of physiotherapy treatment.
Home physiotherapy as rheumatoid arthritis treatment:
It’s safe, can be done as per your schedule and is considered to be more effective as compared to clinical visit as one can perform exercises in the comfort and privacy of their home.
At HealthCare at Home, we have a team of trained and experienced physiotherapists who are perfectly equipped to provide word-class physiotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis treatment with customised plans suited for your individual needs. From helping you regain mobility to suggesting exercises that would strengthen your muscles; our professional physiotherapists can help you get back on your feet in no time. You can get more details on physiotherapy at home by calling our toll-free number 1800-102-4224.