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Managing chronic Rheumatoid arthritis- it can affect more than just your joints

chronic Rheumatoid arthritis can affect more than your joints

You may have chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA, and are wondering what treatment you should use. Knowing about the nature of disease RA is, the different treatment options and how to support your body through the complex process is key. In this article, we will explore some of the main treatment options for chronic pain associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis and their pros and cons. 

RA is an autoimmune disease. Such diseases cannot be cured in general but can be reasonably controlled. The good news is that with better management techniques, people with chronic pain can improve their quality of life and reduce the degree of other symptoms such as fatigue and stiffness that may or may not be related to RA. 

In this age, people suffering from RA are likely to have a much better quality of life than they did 20 years ago. We attribute this gain to earlier diagnosis, more aggressive medications and a greater emphasis on overall well-being

What is Chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a degenerative autoimmune disease that attacks the joints. In this condition, the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue, including joints, thus impacting joint linings, and inducing painful swelling. When it persists for extended periods of time, this kind of inflammation can cause bone erosion, joint deformity, and damage to internal organs in the chronic stage.

While there is no absolute cure for rheumatoid arthritis, physical therapy( thermo-therapy , massage, chiropractic, exercise) and medication can not only ease the pain but also help slow the disease’s progression. 

Do not let RA affect your quality of life

Although there is no cure for RA, early and aggressive treatment can help you lead an active pain-free life. About 20 years ago, therapies only helped restore the basic motion of joints but now better physical therapies can put you back into gear.

What are the treatment options for chronic pain relief?

Pain management 

Chronic pain has the ability to limit your normal routine and lead to additional, serious health problems. Swelling & pain can make it hard to keep up at work, handle tasks at home and attend social functions, leading to difficulties in your relationships and financial instability. Hence, finding an effective treatment is essential. 

flaxseed oil and fish oil are great in managing arthritis
Flaxseed oil capsules are great for RA

Pain, in most cases, can be minimized with a class of medications called anti-rheumatic drugs. However, you should consult a rheumatologist and not an orthopedic surgeon for a prescription. In association with the rheumatologist, you can identify treatments that allow you to live an enjoyable, fulfilling life. The approach you will select should include more than just medication. However, painkillers are likely to play a big role. 

  • Aggressive treatment for rheumatoid arthritis typically begins with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs. These drugs do more than just reduce symptoms, they address some of the basic causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)- your doctor may prescribe a type called a COX-2 inhibitor, such as celecoxib or etoricoxib. These medicines can help relieve pain while also reducing inflammation in the joints, although they will not stop rheumatoid arthritis from getting worse over time. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overactive immune response. 
  • Biologic drugs target immune triggers that cause joint inflammation and damage in rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs work wonderfully against auto-immune diseases, provide relief from pain and also improve the immune system. They are only available by prescription.

Hot and cold therapy for RA

Heat therapy, cold therapy as well as their combination is very effective in helping ease the symptoms of arthritis. While heat soothes the pain and stiffness, cold therapy may help reduce the swelling. Both have to be applied to affected parts of the body.

heat and cold therapy work wonders for arthritis

Doctors and physiotherapists refer to it as thermotherapy and usually recommend it to give relief to the patient from painful stiff joints and to increase mobility.

Thermotherapy works because temperature changes act upon inflammation, facilitate blood flow, and improve nerve sensation.

Do remember though that it would only help the local areas and not the overall RA condition. 

One can visit a physical clinic or do simple compresses at home when your arthritis flares up. One should apply cold with an ice pack that is the temperature of melting ice. Cold packs are available in the market. You can also make it from items available at home, such as a bag of frozen vegetables or ice cubes in a sealed zipper bag.

How to do heat and cold therapy?

First, apply the cold pack for no more than 20 minutes. Wait for about 10 minutes and then apply heat for no more than 15 minutes. The cold will constrict the blood vessels and the heat will dilate them, moving the inflammation away from the stiff area. 

As a general understanding, ice is applied when there is swelling and injury and heat is applied when there is pain and stiffness. While applying ice or heat, keep a layer of cloth between your skin and the pack.

Heat therapy can be dry or even wet. You can keep a damp towel under the heating pad. Or you can spend time in a hot shower or tub or maybe a steam room. 

There is another very effective type of heat therapy that is available in good spas. It is called a paraffin wax bath. It gives instant relief and improves joint and muscle movement over time.

But do consult your doctor before starting it at home. 

Chiropractic care for Rheumatoid Arthritis

chiropractic care for arthritis

For RA, chiropractic care is considered to balance the function of the body through the alignment of your spine and other joints.

These adjustments may also help lower the production of proteins that can build up in the immune system and contribute to inflammation.

We must understand that chiropractors cannot cure arthritis. However, they can help ease the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. 

Important things to remember

Remember that chronic rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and AI diseases do not have a definite cause that can be amended or removed surgically. Furthermore, autoimmune diseases can be managed naturally by focussing on a healthy diet which contains fish oil( or flaxseed oil), vitamin C, vitamin D, and probiotics to help minimize your immune response. 

Last but not the least, according to Ayurveda, autoimmune diseases can be controlled by balancing the doshas and the body chakras. This can be done by practicing pranayama, yoga asanas, and meditation or dhyana

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