Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Arthritis treatment options typically include a combination of physical exercises and prescription medicines. The type of arthritis present and the severity of symptoms can determine which types of treatments are used. Most people can maintain their mobility with the proper treatments.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, or NSAIDs, are initially used to treat the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen and acetaminophen. NSAIDs are available in both over-the-counter and prescription strengths. Your physician can assess your pain levels and the severity of the joint damage to determine which type of NSAIDs are best for your personal use.
Prescription pain medicines are also used to treat the swelling, inflammation and pain of osteoarthritis, and steroid injections may be given to reduce inflammation. Surgery may be an option if the joint is severely damaged, but can be repaired or replaced. Some people may not be eligible for surgery, depending on their current age, weight and general health.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that typically worsens over time. Most physicians recommended early, aggressive treatment to encourage a remission of the disease. Remission is a period of time when the symptoms of the disease are not present. Treatments can include medications that stop the immune system from attacking the joints in the body, pain medications and steroids to reduce inflammation.
First-line drugs, such as steroids to reduce inflammation, and second-line drugs are often used in combination to provide immediate relief and to stop the progression of the disease. Some types of second-line drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis include methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine.
Exercise and Range of Motion
Exercising the affected areas of the body is typically recommended, as moving the joint helps to maintain mobility. Gentle stretches, walking or even gardening are all exercises recommended for those suffering from arthritis. Physical therapy is recommended for patients who need to increase their range of motion.
Other non-medical treatments include using hot or cold packs on the affected joints and taking over-the-counter pain medicines for mild pain. Over-the-counter and prescription medicine should not be taken together unless it is advised by your physician.