Reviewed by Michael Smith on December 04, 2015

Sources

NIH.gov

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Video Transcript

NARRATOR: When you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system mistakenly attacks joints and organs, causing damage.

RA is a lifelong disease. But there are many treatments that relieve pain and stiffness, and also slow down or stop the damage to your joints.

You may take a combination of medicines, including anti-inflammatory drugs called NSAIDs, steroids, and medications called Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs, or DMARDs.

DMARDs slow down or stop damage to your joints and body.

If DMARDs aren't working, drugs called biologics that target specific parts of your immune system can help.

You can build muscle strength and keep joints limber with physical and occupational therapy and regular exercise. Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for are RA.

People with severe joint damage may need surgery to have the joint replaced with an artificial one. Joint replacement, also known as an arthroplasty, can relieve pain and help a person move better.

For joints that are difficult to replace, bone or joint fusion, which doctors call arthrodesis, may be an option. In joint fusion surgery, the damaged joint is removed, and the bones are fused together with bone graft.

Synovectomy is a surgery where doctors remove the lining of the joint, called the synovium.

For more information, talk to your doctor.