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Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The immune system of RA sufferers mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, and this includes the membrane that covers the body’s joints. The initial result is usually pain, swelling and warmth of all affected areas. Some people run a fever during a flare up and feel generally run down.
Rheumatoid arthritis should be diagnosed quickly so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. This helps prevent future complications. After your diagnosis, you have several options for treating the pain both via your physician and at home.
Your doctor may suggest prescription drugs for managing your arthritis. Drugs commonly prescribed include corticosteroids, immunosuppressant drugs, and anti-rheumatic drugs. These can help control the pain by treating the underlying autoimmune disease; however, all of the medicines have side effects and individual response varies.
Over the counter medications can also help. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are all anti-inflammatory and reduce pain. Many arthritis sufferers find some relief through taking these. If you are on prescription medications, you should speak to your doctor before taking any over the counter pills, however. In addition, acetaminophen, which is another common pain reliever, is not at the top of the list for relieving arthritis pain. This is because, although it can relieve pain, its anti-inflammatory properties are negligible.
Topical Pain Relief
Many arthritis patients find pain relief through direct topical applications. These include creams, like Super Blue Stuff OTC Pain Relief Cream. This soothes pain quickly and without the side effects that oral pain medications can bring.
Heat therapy is another alternative. Paraffin baths are suitable for soothing the hands. The baths are sold in many drugstores and beauty supply stores. The containers heat paraffin to a safe, but warm, temperature. After dipping your hands in the wax, you can then cover them with a moist cloth to help retain the warmth.
Hot compresses and pads are another way to use heat to reduce your pain. Many types of these pads or compresses are available.
Using cold compresses reduces inflammation and pain quickly. Cold therapy may be more soothing than heat therapy when inflammation is severe.
Physical therapy reduces some of the pain and stiffness associated with RA. These range-of-motion exercises are usually recommended in between flare-ups rather than during, however.
In many cases, you will find the most relief by using a combination of pain-reducing strategies. Creams can usually be used in conjunction with oral medicines, for example. If you are concerned about any side effects of your medications, make sure to speak with your doctor.