Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments

Written by Courtney Salinas
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Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a very frightening form of arthritis that results in joint deformity if left untreated. This is a progressive disease that works very quickly and requires treatments in the first 18-24 months to avoid joint deformity. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease but the side effects can be lessened with prompt treatments.

There are three stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis. The synovial lining, which surrounds a fluid secreted by the membranes in the joints, swells, causing stiffness, swelling, redness and pain around the joint. Then the synovial lining thickens due to a rapid division of growth of cells. Finally, the inflamed cells produce enzymes that could digest bones or cartilage, which leads to joint deformity and eventual loss of movement. Catching Rheumatoid Arthritis in the early stages can prevent the joint deformity of the final stage.

Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis

Beginning treatments usually start with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, or NSAID, like aspirin. Cortisone injections are also usually given to ease inflammation. These two treatments are powerful, but also have harsh side effects. NSAIDs typically are harsh on the stomach, sometimes causing more pain than they should be relieving.

Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs, or DMARDs, are often used in place of NSAIDs and corticosteroids because DMARDs don't have the complications that NSAIDs and corticosteroids have. Enbrel, a brand of DMARD, inhibits cytokine, which is found in high levels in rheumatic joints and causes joint inflammation and damage. Whatever the treatment, it is most important to treat Rheumatoid arthritis early, to prevent deformity and even disability. Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, but the effects can be delayed or even offset permanently.

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