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Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), most symptoms can be managed with a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. If these don't work, or if RA is affecting quality of life, surgery may be an option. The earlier RA is detected and treated, the better it can be controlled.

The goals of treatment for RA include:

  • Pain relief
  • Maintaining the greatest possible mobility and function
  • Decreasing joint deformity
  • Maintaining or improving quality of life

RA is different in everyone. Working with a healthcare team that is made up of doctors, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals is important to help find the treatments that works best for each person.

RA treatment involves the following:

Lifestyle changes
Medications
Surgery
Alternative and complementary therapies
Other treatments

References:

Handout on health: Rheumatoid arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rheumatic_Disease/default.asp. Updated August 2014. Accessed October 31, 2014.

Rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/rheumatoid-arthritis. October 31, 2014.

Rheumatoid arthritis. The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/joint_disorders/rheumatoid_arthritis_ra.html. Updated May 2013. Accessed October 31, 2014.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 10, 2014. Accessed October 31, 2014.

Wasserman AM. Diagnosis and management of rheumatoid arthritis. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(11):1245-1252.



Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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