Rheumatoid Arthritis (commonly known as RA) is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints. It is an inflammatory condition that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. Approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. adult population have RA. The exact cause is unknown, however, it commonly begins between the ages of 30 – 60, and occurs more often in women. There is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, but effective medications are available to treat it and help prevent deformed joints.
RA can affect any joint, but the small joints in the hands and feet are most often affected. If generally occurs in a symmetrical pattern, meaning if one hand is involved the other one is too. Less often, inflammation can affect organs, such as the eyes, blood vessels, or lungs.
Other signs and symptoms can include:
- Loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Dry eyes or mouth
- Pain and stiffness in the morning for 30 minutes or more
- Rheumatoid nodules, which are firm lumps which grow beneath the skin over bony areas
Early, aggressive treatment is the current approach. The goals of RA treatment include:
- Relieve pain
- Reduce inflammation
- Slow down or stop joint damage
- Improve physical function and overall well-being
Medications that may be given to help with pain and inflammation include analgesics, corticosteroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The other class of medications that are now typically prescribed early after diagnosis is DMARDS (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs). DMARDS are used to slow down the course of the disease and prevent joint deformity.
Having a chronic illness can be life-changing and very difficult. You can help in the management of your RA by communicating all of your concerns with your healthcare provider and taking part in self-care.
Tips for self-care with Rheumatoid Arthritis:
- Learn more about RA and your medications. Ask your HPC Specialty Pharmacy team for any further information you may need.
- Exercise is an important part of RA treatment. Low impact exercise, such as walking, can help build muscle strength. Ask your healthcare provider if physical therapy is an option to help develop an appropriate exercise plan.
- It is also important to rest during times of a flare-up to help reduce inflammation and fatigue.
- Relaxation techniques, such as massage therapy, deep breathing, and guided imagery can help reduce stress and pain.
- Eating a balance, healthy diet can help your overall health and well-being.
HPC offers the following specialty therapies for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
- Simponi Aria®
- Xeljanz® XR
Visit the following sites for additional information on Rheumatoid Arthritis: