If your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has progressed to what is considered to be severe, you may be experiencing high levels of joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, and possibly even joint deformities. And, if these symptoms are interfering with your daily activities, you may want to know how to live with your disease in the best way possible. This begins with a variety of medical treatments.
While there is no cure for RA, your doctor will consider the kinds of symptoms you have and the level of joint damage, as well as how well you can function physically. With this information, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan. This plan may include:
- Medications: Because many of the drugs used to treat RA can have serious side effects, your doctor will be careful when prescribing them and monitor your reaction to each one. These drugs might include anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, antirheumatic drugs, immunosuppressants, and other medications to help you cope with your symptoms.
- Physical therapy: A good physical therapist can help you learn exercises and movements that can help maintain flexibility in your joints, and show you easier ways to complete daily tasks.
- Surgery: When other treatments fail, sometimes surgery is an option. The most common types of RA surgery include joint replacement, repair of tendons, and joint fusion.
You doctor may also encourage you to adopt self-care practices at home that can help you deal with your RA symptoms. Most medical personnel recommend that you:
- Participate in regular gentle exercise. Walking, swimming, and water aerobics offer relief for some patients with RA.
- Learn relaxation techniques. Because pain and fatigue are hallmark symptoms of severe RA, learning to cope with stress can be very helpful. Patients have found relief through hypnosis, muscle relaxation, and deep breathing.
- Use heat and cold for relief. Heating pads and moist heat can relax your muscles and help with pain. Cold compresses may also alleviate pain symptoms and can help with muscle spasms, as well.
- Try alternative treatments. Some researchers have found that certain plant and fish oils have beneficial effects on pain and stiffness. In addition, tai chi has helped some patients reduce their pain.
Because severe RA can make it impossible for you to work, you may want to consider applying for Social Security disability benefits. As Massachusetts SSA disability lawyers, we know that this process can be overwhelming, especially when you need to focus on your treatment.
Call Keefe Disability Law in Boston today, toll free, for help. We can smooth out the rough spots and speed up the complicated process.