Heat and cold applications are part of the collaborative therapy for RA.
Regular exercise is recommended to maintain muscle strength and improve overall physical function.
Patients should balance rest and activity throughout the day to relieve fatigue and pain. During acute inflammation, patients will need rest, but should limit it to no longer than 1 week to prevent joint stiffness and immobility.
NSAIDs are given to provide physical comfort by relieving pain and stiffness in those with RA.
DMARDs, or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, are a gold standard for RA treatment. These drugs can lessen the permanent effects of RA, like joint erosion and deformity.
Glucocorticoids are sometimes used for symptom control during disease flare-ups, often through intraarticular injections into individual joints. Long-term use is not recommended as this can lead to the development of osteoporosis and avascular necrosis.
Physical therapy helps maintain joint motion and muscle strength, while occupational therapy develops upper extremity function for performing activities of daily living. The use of splints or other assistive devices (such as an electric can opener) can help with activities and provide joint protection.
In some cases, surgical treatment is needed to provide pain relief and improve the function of deformed joints. Reconstructive joint surgery may involve the removal of the joint lining (synovectomy) or total joint replacement (arthroplasty).
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