Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that can cause joint pain and damage throughout the body. The immune system attacks healthy cells causing inflammation and painful swelling in the affected areas of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis mainly attacks the joints on both sides of the body.
The immune system mistakes the body’s cells for foreign invaders and releases inflammatory chemicals that attack the synovium tissue that lines a joint producing a fluid to help the joint move smoothly. The inflamed synovium becomes thicker and makes the joint feel painful and tender, causing joint movement become difficult. Small joints in the wrists, hands and feet are typically affected first with pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease marked by symptoms of inflammation and pain in the joints. The joint symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of joint function and deformities. The goal of treatment is to slow inflammation, relieve symptoms, prevent joint damage, and improve function. Early treatment is best to reduce or stop inflammation as quickly as possible.
Some rheumatoid arthritis medications help reduce pain and inflammation, while other medications helps to reduce flares and limit the damage that RA does to the joints.
The over-the-counter medications that help reduce pain and inflammation include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and acetaminophen. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) work by blocking the body’s immune system response to slow down the progression. New generation biologic DMARDs may be an effective treatment since they provide a targeted response to inflammation rather than blocking the body’s immune system response. Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors block certain immune responses.