Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that triggers stiffness, pain, swelling and loss of movement in the joints. It is likely to affect the knees, wrists, knuckles and feet.
As a lifelong condition, it typically starts in early adulthood or middle age. The individual might only experience a single episode but more often the signs come and go. The repeated episodes can lead to lasting joint damage. The symptoms can be reduced and prevent or slow down its progression by following the treatment suggested by the doctor.
What are the signs?
The usual indications of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Reddened, warm, tender and swollen joints, usually on both right and left sides
- Joint pain and rigidity that lasts for an hour or longer, especially after rest or upon waking in the morning.
- Discomfort in the joints, usually on both sides of the body but severe on one side
- Mild fever, tiredness or generally sick
- Irregularities in the shape of the joints over time
- Small-sized lumps beneath the skin near the affected joints
Management of rheumatoid arthritis
The objective of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis aims on:
- Reducing the pain and rigidity
- Lessen the swelling
- Retain the shape of the joints to normal as much as possible
- Slow down or stop the damage to the joints
Several drugs are used as part of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis such as:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help lessen the swelling and pain.
- Steroids might be given to reduce the pain and swelling which is available as a pill, ointment, cream or as injection.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) work by slowing down or stop damage to the joints. They also help reduce the pain and inflammation within the joints.
- Hyaluronic acid might be injected directly into the knee if the individual has knee arthritis which helps the joint move more easily.