The Care of Rheumatoid Arthritis
by: Leroy Gastering
There are different forms of arthritis – each painful and possibly debilitating. Often attributed to those of advanced age, arthritis can afflict anyone and can develop for a number of reasons, depending upon the type. Since this particular disease affects the joints, the agility and mobility of the patient can be significantly impacted as it progresses – sometimes to the extent of physical deformity.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the immune system which often targets the hands of the patient. In addition to great pain and inflammation of the joints, those who suffer from this form of arthritis will often experience a deformity of the hands and fingers. The disease typically affects both hands simultaneously and can cause exquisite pain, swelling and loss of normal function, in addition to severe deformity.
In broad terms, arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints. Where rheumatoid arthritis is concerned, the actual linings of the joints is what becomes inflamed. This causes the cartilage in the joints to grow and swell, which over long term erodes the joints. This is what causes the very characteristic crippling deformities that occur in the fingers and hands of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
People diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis comprise only 1% of the population. (Vast numbers of people who suffer from other types of arthritis.) This disease affects women much more frequently than men. So far, there is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, the only recognized treatment at this point, is to manage the pain. Doctors prescribe various remedies which depend upon the patient’s medical history, overall profile and other related factors.
Of the many types of pain control, oral medications are often used to control the swelling and pain that’s associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Other options include braces and splints – which gird weakened joints and remove excessive pressure from them – and surgery, in more critical cases. The latter option not only aids in reducing pain, but also provides greater mobility and improves the appearance of the hands. These surgeries may consist of a synovectomy, osteomoty or joint replacement.
When diagnosed early enough, there are many steps that can be used to reduce pain and the other consequences of this type of arthritis. So, even though there’s no known cure, if one experiences pain, swelling, or diminished use of the hands, one should contact a doctor immediately. A plan can be outlined to reduce pain, and prepare for future surgery.
No-one should have to live with pain of arthritis, now that so much progress has been made in the field of pain management. The first steps in managing the pain may be as simple as common aspirin or other medications. If they do not work, a doctor will then prescribe medication that specifically targets arthritis pain. But before that can happen,there has to be open communication between the doctor and the patient regarding the pain early in the treatment. So, it is not advisable to suffer quietly in this case as you can experience drug free relief from pain, or you can go the medical route.