The goals of managing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are to relieve pain, control inflammation, slow down joint damage, maintain the ability to perform normal day-to-day tasks, maximize quality of life, and prevent surgery.
Treatment often involves a combination of rest, exercise, physical therapy, emotional support, job and home support, diet, joint protection, and medications. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of RA helps to control the disease, slow down joint destruction, and delay loss of joint function.
Medication plays a central role in most arthritis treatment plans. Some medications such as biologics and DMARDs reduce the signs and symptoms of RA and slow down joint damage. Other medications such as corticosteroids, NSAIDs, and other pain relievers help to relieve and manage the symptoms of RA. No matter which medication is used, it is important to take the medication as directed by your doctor. You can help take control of RA and slow down joint destruction by sticking with the appropriate treatment.
Treatment for RA does not mean a cure; rather, its goal is to bring the disease under control. This means following your treatment plan until you have achieved remission, a state where you no longer experience the signs and symptoms of RA. Even after you have achieved remission, you must continue to follow your treatment plan so that you may continue to stay in remission.
Your doctor can help you choose the medication that is best for you. Once you start taking a medication, it is important to continue the dosing schedule that is recommended by your doctor. Early treatment is recommended to help bring RA under control. If you do not take them as directed, these medications may not work as effectively to help slow down joint damage.