Rheumatoid Arthritis- Part 3- Physiotherapy, RMT- Kitchener-Waterloo


Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis- Part 3

Treating RA

There is no known cure for RA. The goal of treatment is to reduce joint inflammation and pain, prevent joint damage, and maximize joint function. Aggressive treatment should be started as early as possible. Treatment includes a combination of medication and exercises to strengthen supporting muscles around the joints. Treatment may also include surgery. Treatment is tailored to the individual, taking into account their age, affected joints, and the progression of the disease.

RA Medications

Medications used to treat RA include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) which include biologics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, and pain relievers. DMARDs slow progression of disease and are usually used with NSAIDs and steroids in treatment.

Is Surgery an Option?

After significant joint damage has occurred or when pain or disability becomes unbearable, some people choose surgery to improve function and relieve pain. Joint replacement is the most frequently performed surgery for RA patients — with the knee and hip joints most often replaced. Other types of surgery, such as arthroscopy (inserting a tube-like instrument into the joint to see and repair abnormal tissues) and tendon reconstruction, can be performed as well

Other Treatments for RA

Some RA patients find relief in the following: moist heat, relaxation remedies, and acupuncture. Supplements that have been shown to possibly help RA are fish oil, borage seed oil, and cat’s claw. Check with your doctor before taking supplements as they can cause side effects and may interact with your medications.

RA and Diet

The most important diet is a healthy one that is balanced in nutrients. Although there’s no “arthritis diet” per se, many RA sufferers report that eating or avoiding certain foods helps their symptoms. Foods high in saturated fats (bacon, steak, butter) have been shown to increase inflammation in the body. Some people with RA find a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tofu, walnuts) helpful. Some people feel that other foods — such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, white potatoes, peppers, coffee, and dairy — worsen RA symptoms.

The Importance of Exercise

It may seem counterintuitive, but regularly exercising those stiff, painful joints can reduce the overall pain of RA. Plus, it can keep bones and muscles strong, and help reverse joint stiffness. Choose exercises such as stretching, resistance training, and low-impact aerobics (swimming, water aerobics). Use caution with any exercise that puts pressure on the joints, like jogging and heavy weight lifting. And if you’re having a flare, take a short break from exercise. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Be well.

www.webmd.com   www.activewellness.ca

 


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