Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

The main goal of treating rheumatoid arthritis is controlling inflammation, relieving pain, and reducing any disability that may be associated with the disorder. These treatments usually involve medications, physical or occupational therapy, as well as regular exercise. In some severe cases, surgery is conducted to correct damaged joints. Aggressive early treatment is the key to successful results. With today’s advanced methods of treatments, damage to joints can be slowed or completely stopped.

The goals of treating rheumatoid arthritis include:

Stopping inflammation or putting the disease in remission.
Prevent damage to joints and organs.
Relieve symptoms.
Reduce complications that may be long-term.
Improve overall well-being and physical function.

To meet these goals, doctors do adhere to the following strategies:

Medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are a variety of drugs used for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Some are primarily used to ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, while others slow or stop the disease from progressing further in order to inhibit extensive structural damage.

Drugs That Ease Symptoms

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are mostly available by prescription and over-the-counter as well. They help in easing pain and inflammation in arthritis. NSAIDs consist of drugs like ketoprofen, naproxen sodium, and ibuprofen among others. For patients who have previously had stomach ulcers, celecoxib may be prescribed by the doctor, which is a type of NSAID known as a COX-2 inhibitor and is designed to save the stomach from extensive side effects. These medicines can either be applied to the skin to a swollen joint directly as a cream or patch or can also be taken by mouth.

Drugs That Slow Disease Activity


Corticosteroid medications include prednisolone, prednisone, and methylprednisolone. They are quick-acting and potent anti-inflammatory medications. They are used in rheumatoid arthritis to get damaging inflammation under control while awaiting DMARDs and NSAIDs to take effect. Due to the risk of side effects associated with these drugs, doctors normally prefer using them for a short period of time in low doses.


These are Disease-modifying Antirheumatic drugs and work by modifying the progress of this disease. Traditional DMARDs include hydroxychloroquine, azathioprine, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, methotrexate, and cyclophosphamide. The medicines can easily be taken by mouth, by self-injection, or given as an infusion by a doctor.


These are subsets of DMARDs and may work faster than traditional DMARDs. They are either injected or given as an infusion by a doctor. They don’t wipe away the entire immune response, because they target specific steps during the inflammatory process. A biologic can modify, slow, or even stop the disease.

JAK Inhibitors

This is a new subcategory of DMARDs that block the Janus kinase pathways, which participate in the immune response of a body. Unlike biologics, a JAK inhibitor like Tofacitinib can be ingested by mouth.


Although surgery for rheumatoid arthritis may never be needed, it can be a significant option for those affected with severe damage that limits mobility, independence, and daily function. Joint Replacement surgery can also restore function and relieve pain in badly damaged joints. The procedure involves Replacement of damaged joint parts with plastic and metal parts, Hip and Knee replacements being the most common. Other joints that may undergo Joint replacement include shoulders, wrists, elbows, and ankles.

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