Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition — that means your immune system, which normally fights germs and viruses, mistakenly attacks your body’s own cells instead. In this case, the immune system attacks your joint tissue cells.
The best treatment is not always clear cut and can depend on the severity of your RA and your general health. The good news? Today’s medications are designed to target specific areas of the immune system, so if one doesn’t work for you, odds are good another type can ease your pain and prevent permanent joint damage!
Exploring your options
Your doctor will review your treatment options, which can help:
- Relieve RA symptoms (pain, swelling and stiffness). Medications include nonsteroidal antiinflammatories, such as ibuprofen, and corticosteroids.
- Relieve RA symptoms, plus slow down or prevent joint damage. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) include nonbiologics and biologics. These can relieve inflammation, pain and stiffness and also stop RA progression by interrupting immune system signals that trigger inflammation and joint damage.
In fact, says Madelaine Feldman, MD, “biologics and newer non-biologic medications have helped many RA patients achieve remission.”
Assessing your treatment
Make sure to see your doctor on schedule and have tests performed as recommended. Lab results will help them see how well your body is responding to the medication, as well as any side effects from the medication.
Bottom line: There’s no reason to suffer needlessly. Remission is within reach, so why settle for “good” when you can feel “great?”