Battling Rheumatoid Arthritis: What are your treatment options?

The goal of rheumatoid arthritis treatment is achieving the lowest possible level of disease activity (remission, ideally), minimizing joint damage, and improving quality of life. Treatment options include medications, lifestyle management, physical and occupational therapy, and surgical intervention.


There are different drugs used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) are used primarily to ease the symptoms of RA, while Corticosteroids, DMARDs, and others are used to slow or stop the course of the disease and to inhibit structural damage.

Want to learn more about RA Medications? Read our article on RA Medications here.

Occupational therapy

The American Occupational Therapy Association defines an occupational therapist as someone who…”helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). An occupational therapist can help the you learn new and effective ways of carrying out daily tasks so that stress to painful joints is minimized. For example, this can be as simple as finding tips on how to open doors by leaning as opposed to your arms to more complex tools that are specially devised to help with gripping and grabbing.


Generally, when flare ups are not present, it is important to try and exercise regularly; this will help not only with general health but can improve mobility and strengthen muscles around affected joints. Make sure you are doing the right exercises, ones that do not strain the joints are best, such as swimming. Reach out to a qualified physical therapist to help you find the best exercises for you.

Finding ways of alleviating mental stress may also help control pain. Examples include hypnosis, guided imagery, deep breathing and muscle relaxation.


Surgery may never be needed, but it can be an important option if RA is causing permanent damage that limits independence. The doctor may consider surgery to repair damaged joints, correct deformities, or reduce pain. The following procedures may be considered:

  • Arthroplasty
  • Tendon repair
  • Synovectomy
  • Arthrodesis

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