Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. A treatment plan is tailored to you with your health care provider.

There is no cure for RA. The goal of treatment is often to limit pain and inflammation, and help ensure function. You may have one or more types of treatments. Treatment may include:

  • Medications. Some medications may be used for pain relief. Some are used to treat inflammation. Others can help to slow the disease from getting worse. Medications are often managed by a rheumatologist. This is a doctor who is a specialist in arthritis and rheumatic diseases. You may need regular blood tests to check how the medications affect your blood cells, liver, and kidneys.
  • Splints. Splints may be used to help protect the joints and strengthen the weak joints.
  • Physical therapy. Physical therapy may be used to help increase the strength and movement of the affected areas.

In some cases, surgery may be an option if other treatments do not work. Surgery does not cure RA. It helps correct the deformities caused by the disease. After surgery, RA can continue to cause problems in the hand, and may even require more surgery. Repair or reconstruction of the hand and wrist can be done in a variety of ways, including:

  • Surgical cleaning. This surgery removes inflamed and diseased tissues in the hands to help increase function.
  • Joint replacement. This type of surgery, also called arthroplasty, may be used in cases of severe arthritis of the hand. This surgery may be done on older adults with a lower activity level. Joint replacement may lessen pain and help increase function of the hands and fingers. During the surgery, a joint that has been destroyed by the disease is replaced with an artificial joint. The new joint may be made out of metal, plastic, silicone rubber. Or, if may be made from your own tissue, such as a tendon from another part of your body.
  • Joint fusion. For this surgery, a joint is removed, and the two ends of bones are fused together. This makes one large bone without a joint. This is usually done on patients with advanced RA. After the fusion of the bone, there is no movement in the fused joint.

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