Better medication means that people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are less likely to resort to surgery than in the past.
Before effective drugs became available to treat severe joint pain, doctors tended to surgically remove inflammatory tissue.
A German specialist, Hans-Dieter Carl, also says doctors now fit fewer artificial joints than two decades ago.
However not all joints respond to medicine and some will remain swollen and painful.
In such a case, doctors will often recommend what is known as a synovectomy, the removal of the membrane (synovium) that lines a joint.
As with medication, it has a higher chance of succeeding the earlier you opt for the treatment, says Carl.
That means acting fast is important when it comes to this ailment.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may fluctuate in severity and flare up on occasion. It’s best alleviated by applying a cold pack to reduce swelling in warm, tender joints.
“You can get rheumatoid arthritis at any age,” Dr Stefan Schewe, a specialist in internal medicine and rheumatology, says.
Although some people may have a genetic predisposition to it, it isn’t an inherited disease, while smokers and women are at a somewhat higher risk.
Time is not only a factor for operations, but it’s also important that rheumatoid arthritis be treated with medications early.
Biologics are often used nowadays, a class of drugs genetically engineered inside living cells.
“They can effectively arrest progression of the disease, but there’s no cure,” says internist Dr Edmund Edelmann.
Cortisone shots are sometimes prescribed for conditions including rheumatoid arthritis because they can relieve inflammation and pain quickly and effectively.
Cortisone has definite side effects, however, so it can only be used for a short period of time.
Besides medications, regular exercise is important in managing symptoms of many forms of rheumatism.
You may choose swimming, running, cycling or something else, since “there isn’t a particular kind of exercise that’s especially suitable,” Schewe says.
Occupational and psychological therapy are often prescribed along with physical therapy. – dpa
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