Rheumatoid Arthritis


Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) blockers are a more recent type of DMARD that help ease symptoms more quickly. The most commonly prescribed TNF blockers include infliximab, etanercept and adalimomab. TNF blockers can usually help to reduce swelling and pain in one to two weeks and can also slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. However, TNF blockers are not suitable for everyone, as the known side effects include heart failure, infection and lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system - part of the body's defence system against infection). Your doctor will advise you about whether or not TNF blockers are suitable for you.

Corticosteroids are a type of medicine that help to reduce pain, stiffness and swelling. They are usually used when NSAIDs fail to provide relief. They are commonly prescribed on a short term basis, often during a flare-up. If you have a single inflamed or swollen joint, your doctor may inject a steroid into the joint. Relief is rapid and the effect can last from a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of your condition.
The long-term use of corticosteroids can have serious side effects. These can include weight gain, osteoporosis (thinning of the bones), easy bruising, muscle weakness and thinning of the skin. They can also make diabetes and glaucoma (an eye disease) worse.
If your rheumatoid arthritis is particularly severe, you may need surgery. Arthroplasty is a type of surgery that reconstructs or replaces a diseased joint to help restore movement. However, not all joints can be replaced. The most commonly replaced joints are hips and knees. Osteotomy is another type of surgery that helps to realign joints. You may also need surgery on your hands, to repair damaged tendons (the tissue that connects muscle to bone).
You should try and get plenty of rest during a flare-up, as this is when your joints can be particularly painful and inflamed. Putting further strain on very swollen and painful joints can often make pain and inflammation worse.
Exercise is very important for maintaining your general health and mobility. Try to keep as active as you can because the muscles around your joints will become weak if they are not used. A gentle form of exercise that does not put too much strain on your joints is best. Swimming, for example, helps exercise your muscles but puts very little strain on your joints because the water supports your weight.




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