Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment is dependent on several factors, including the severity of the disease and the patient’s immune system. Medication is administered to prevent joint damage and to help reduce inflammation. The aim is to match the strength of a drug to the level of inflammation. For instance, in patients with low disease activity, low-dose hydroxychloroquine may be prescribed.
Another option for treatment is a surgical procedure called arthroscopy. This procedure involves inserting a thin lighted tube called an arthroscope into the affected joint. A fiber-optic cable attached to the arthroscope allows the surgeon to view the inside of the joint. During the procedure, bone fragments and cartilage are removed. If the RA has progressed to the point that surgery is no longer an option, patients may be given an artificial replacement joint implant. The devices can be worn on the wrist, shoulder, knee, or hip.
In addition to surgery, RA patients may benefit from a lifestyle change that includes a variety of activities and therapies. Physical activity is important for RA patients, as it helps manage symptoms and preserve energy. Exercise, such as Tai chi, can also help reduce the inflammation of joints. However, it is important to avoid intense exercise if it causes sharp pain or discomfort. In addition, patients should take breaks throughout the day. They should also take advantage of hot and cold treatments to help ease painful joints.
The symptoms of RA include stiffness, swelling, and difficulty moving. The disease can also be associated with other autoimmune disorders. Physical examination can reveal joint tenderness, limited motion, lumps under the skin, and low-grade fever. Inflammatory markers, such as CRP and ESR, may also be present in the blood. These tests are useful in distinguishing RA from other forms of arthritis.