How to Choose the Right Arthritis Treatment Plan

arthritis treatment plan

Medications can help control pain and inflammation and prevent joint damage. Some medicines can also slow the progression of RA.

Physiatrists can prescribe certain types of NSAIDs, including traditional ones such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and COX-2 inhibitors. Other RA medications include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), corticosteroids, and biologics.

Some people use herbal remedies, such as powdered ginger, borage seed oil, and stinging nettle leaf, to ease RA symptoms. However, talk to your doctor before trying any herb or supplement.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can guide patients through exercises that reduce pain and stiffness and improve mobility, strength, and general fitness. These treatments, like the arthritis treatment Orange Park FL, can also help people manage their symptoms by teaching them how to cope with their condition and modify the environment to ease discomfort.

Some PT techniques include manipulation of the affected area, massage of inflamed tissue, and electrical stimulation (e-stim) to reduce pain and increase muscle engagement. A therapist can also recommend devices such as canes or braces.

Incorporating exercise into a daily routine is an essential strategy for managing arthritis symptoms, Hirst says. Aerobic activity may decrease fatigue and boost cardiovascular fitness, helping to strengthen muscles around arthritic joints to offload joint stress. Some exercises may be challenging for people with arthritis, but it’s essential to start slowly and work up to a reasonable level of intensity. For example, yoga or tai chi are gentle workouts that can strengthen muscles around painful joints while improving flexibility and balance.


Many different medications are used to treat arthritis, and your treatment plan will depend on your type of arthritis and its severity. Your doctor will start you with over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium (Advil, Motrin IB, Aleve). They may also prescribe a more robust version of these called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. These can be taken as a tablet topical cream or gel, such as diclofenac, Voltaren, or Zostrix (capsaicin/menthol).

Some NSAIDs are selective inhibitors of cyclooxygenase enzymes COX-1 and COX-2. These types of medicines reduce pain but will not stop rheumatoid arthritis from continuing to get worse over time.

Corticosteroid drugs, which are given as a pill or injection, reduce swelling and pain. They can also protect joints and other tissues from permanent damage, but they have side effects such as thinning bones, weight gain, and increased risk of infections. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can prevent rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory arthritis from worsening by slowing down or stopping the immune system from attacking healthy joints.


If a joint becomes severely damaged or loses function, surgery may be recommended. This can reduce pain and improve movement. It can also help with the appearance of deformed joints, especially those in the hands.

A doctor will take a history of your symptoms and do a physical exam. They will look for swelling, redness, warmth, and the ability to move the joint. They will also analyze body fluids like blood, urine, and joint fluid (the synovium). They can perform tests to determine what type of arthritis you have.

For example, rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation that breaks down the cartilage in the joints. This causes pain and stiffness and can damage the bones around the joint. Other conditions include fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal discomfort and several other symptoms, and gout, which is characterized by painful attacks in one joint at a time.

Other Options

If your arthritis isn’t responding to medication or physical therapy, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery is a last resort option, but it can be very effective for many people with arthritis. Surgery isn’t for everyone, however, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of surgery.

You can also help control pain and stiffness by exercising regularly. Exercise leads to releasing chemicals in your body that act as natural painkillers, so it can make you feel good even when you have arthritis. Choose low-impact exercises, such as walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, T’ai Chi, or water aerobics, and start slowly to build up your strength.

Arthritis can be frustrating and affect your quality of life, but with the right treatment plan and self-management, you can live a whole and happy life. By understanding the symptoms and talking to your doctor, you can work together to find a treatment that works for you.

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