Can rheumatoid arthritis progress be arrested?

Starting treatment early, and following your treatment plan is the key to managing RA. Two types of medication are commonly prescribed to control RA are anti-inflammatory drugs and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Your doctor may prescribe one or both classes of medication.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications
These medications work by reducing the system-wide inflammation and localized swelling. Most of these drugs also have pain-relieving properties. However, you’ll experience less pain when swelling and inflammation go down.

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
Unlike anti-inflammatory medication, DMARDs slow the progression of the disease and promote remission by stopping your immune system from attacking. By suppressing your immune system, you can save your body from deformity and disability. However, there can be side effects. Because these drugs work by making your immune system less effective, you can become more susceptible to other illnesses, such as the common cold and flu.

Lifestyle Changes
Drug therapy plays a major role in controlling the progression of RA. However, making lifestyle changes can also help you manage symptoms and make you more comfortable.

Daily exercise may sound counterintuitive when your joints hurt. But it can be effective in reducing fatigue and maintaining joint flexibility and range of motion. There are many types of low-impact exercises that can help your RA, including:

water aerobics
tai chi
Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.

Diet changes can also help you manage your symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in certain kinds of fish, walnuts, and flaxseed products, may reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Foods rich in antioxidant vitamins C, E, and A may also keep your body safe from oxidative stress and cell damage. Some people with RA have noticed an improvement in their symptoms when they eliminate dairy, sugar, or gluten.