Chances are that your rheumatologist doctor had a discussion with you after you were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis
regarding pain management. Many times, a rheumatologist will recommend physical therapy to prepare patients to exercise
on their own, at home. Frequently, exercise can help alleviate pain by loosening joints and keeping the muscles around
the joints more flexible. This does not always mean that a rheumatoid arthritis patient remains pain free. In fact, most
patients learn more about managing pain than they do about living without pain.
Always consult with your doctor
Before beginning any pain management plan, it is always highly recommended that you speak with your rheumatologist.
Patients should never self-medicate and should always follow the advice of their physician. Pain management may be
done through a combination of prescription or over-the-counter medications and may include some of the following:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - many people already take these medications on a daily basis and
are not even aware of their strength. NSAIDs are available over-the-counter and is sold under the common names of
Aleve, Advil and Motrin to name a few. In extreme cases, a rheumatologist may offer a slightly stronger, prescription
alternative when a rheumatoid arthritis patient cannot manage pain using over-the-counter versions.
Corticosteroid medications - steroids are commonly used to help reduce inflammation making them a good option for
rheumatoid arthritis. Most corticosteroid treatments have numerous side effects and should be discussed thoroughly with
your rheumatologist. Generally these are prescribed for short periods of time only to reduce inflammation.
New prescription medications
In addition to these commonly used prescriptions, there have been a number of new treatments that have become available
to patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. These prescription drugs may do a great deal to help alleviate symptoms
however, they often have very serious side effects. Patients who have rheumatoid arthritis should discuss these options
with their rheumatologist doctor and find out if they are appropriate paths of treatment.
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) - The most recognizable name for this class of prescription is Enbrel.
These work by stimulating a substance that is normally produced in the body. This class of drugs may help by reducing
swelling and inflammation as well as reducing pain, especially first thing in the morning.
Immunosuppressant's - Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system disease. These drugs help suppress the immune
system and may help control some of the pain and other effects that often accompany RA. Your rheumatologist doctor may
prescribe these drugs to help counter pain and swelling, especially when these symptoms are very severe.
These are just a few options available to those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Patients should contact their
rheumatologist and meet with them to discuss their options. It is important that your doctor be aware of your pain
levels, your level of activity and your maximum flexibility. Only when you and your medical team work together can you
decide which pain management techniques work best for your particular circumstances. There is no need to suffer in
pain, your rheumatologist doctor may have options that can help.