Rheumatoid arthritis manifests itself in different ways. One person with rheumatoid arthritis may exhibit symptoms quite different from those seen in other patients. Because of this, a physician will usually observe the disease on a case-by-case basis and set his plan of treatment according to the individual patient situation. No single detailed plan of treatment can be laid out which will benefit every case. Certain medications may work wonders for one case but may not provide a cure for others and in many cases the more potent the medicines are, the more hazardous the accompanying side effects can be. The physician should use his wise judgment and weigh the benefits that will be gained from such medications against the hazards these render to the patient.
This type of arthritis follows different stages. The early stage is often characterized by the destruction of the joint tissues. In the chronic stage, the patient retains and suffers the handicap brought by the early stage.
Treatment therefore should be directed towards the prevention or reduction of any debilitating damage that usually occurs during the early stage of rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment should also include patient rehabilitation. This will enable restoration of the patient's lost functions damaged during the early stage of the disease.
Experts have laid down a basic program that can help people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis especially during the early stages. Most often, this will benefit patients suffering either the severe or less severe form of rheumatoid arthritis. This program may even control the disease for a long period of time especially in less severe cases.
1. A patient suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should avoid damaging the joints involved. He should avoid stressful activities and should take ample rest by reducing his activities in order to conserve his vitality. Rest is one vital regimen patients suffering from this disease should take.
2. The patient should be able to adjust to his physical condition and should learn about the nature of his disease. He should be able to accept the disability that comes along with rheumatoid arthritis. Psychological adjustment will enable him to become reconciled with his handicap and should make him plan for his future and still become productive.
3. Pain relief is very important in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. This is usually done by the use of dry heat to the affected parts of the body. Pain relievers such as aspirin are often used as well.
4. Patients who are often taking aspirin to relieve the pain should be periodically checked for anemia. Aspirin can produce damaging effects on the blood-forming tissues that can result into anemia.
5. Patients should undergo therapeutic exercises in order to keep the affected muscles in good condition and prevent or reduce deformity to the area. These will also help maintain the patient's vitality.
6. People who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should maintain a well balanced diet. This will provide him the necessary nutrients in order to have good health and maintain his vitality as much as possible. His diet should include plenty of vegetables and fruits.
Patients who are suffering from the more severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis and especially the progressive type should add more drastic program of treatment which should include:
1. An intensive physical and occupational therapy.
2. Some orthopedic devices such as splints can help prevent or reduce deformities.
3. The use of more potent drugs can provide the necessary pain relief. These include the more powerful anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics. Other medicines like corticosteroids, indomethacin and phenylbutazone can also be used.
4. Orthopedic surgery may be performed in some selected cases in order to prevent devastating disability and deformities.
The patient should still make himself useful and productive despite the incapacities caused by the disease. He should learn to accept the disabilities but at the same time understand that there is still a good life ahead despite these physical changes.