Rheumatoid factor is a protein in your body that attacks healthy tissue. A high rheumatoid factor is indicative of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a painful condition that causes stiff, swollen, painful joints and fatigue. You have many treatment options available to you to treat this condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, only managed. The main goal of treatment is to ease inflammation. This relieves pain and slows or prevents further joint damage. Medications are the primary form of treatment, but surgery might be necessary if your joints are severely damaged.
Your doctor will determine the most appropriate medications based on several factors. They include the severity of your condition, the length of time symptoms have been manifesting, blood tests, your overall health and the presence of any other medical problems. The most commonly prescribed treatments are listed below. If they are unsuccessful, other treatments are available.
Corticosteroids quickly reduce pain and inflammation, slowing joint damage. They are most effective for short-term relief. Their power diminishes with long-term use, and they can cause many serious side effects.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) slow joint damage in early stages of the disease. Commonly prescribed DMARDs include Plaquenil, Ridaura, Azulfidine and Rheumatrex.
Immunosuppressants keep your immune system from attacking healthy tissue and eliminate the defective cells causing the condition. These medications make you more susceptible to infection. Common ones include Arava, Neoral and Sandimmune.
TNF-alpha inhibitors attack TNF-alpha, a protein that promotes inflammation. They reduce pain, stiffness and swelling and include Enbrel, Remicade and Humira.
If medications fail to improve your condition, surgery might be necessary to repair affected joints. Surgery aims to reduce pain, fix deformities and allow you to use the joint again. You might undergo one or more of the following procedures during your operation. Arthroplasty removes the joint and replaces it with a prosthesis. If inflammation and joint damage have affected the surrounding tendons, your surgeon will fix them. Synovectomy involves removing the lining of the joint if it is inflamed.
The foods you eat play a big part in promoting or easing inflammation. The University of Maryland reviewed reports of people whose symptoms were improved by switching to a vegan diet. This is not scientifically proven, however.
Avoid refined, white flour foods and foods high in table sugar like cookies and ice cream. They promote inflammation. Reduce your consumption of red meat and aim for healthier protein sources like whole soy foods, beans and cold-water fish rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Saturated fats like those found in meat and other animal products also promote inflammation.
Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants that protect the body's tissues from inflammation and other forms of damage. Cook with healthy oils like olive and canola. Eat lots of whole grains.
Exercise relieves stiffness and weakness, improves range of motion, promotes overall health and well-being and increases strength and mobility. Adequate rest is also important for easing inflammation. A good exercise routine is an important part of treatment for RA. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you design a safe, effective regimen.
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests the following supplements might be of benefit for treating RA. You do not need to take them all as some offer similar benefits. Consulting with a health-care professional experienced in natural medicine is beneficial for determining appropriate supplementation.
A glucosamine/chondroitin combination supplement supports overall joint health; take 500 to 1,500mg daily. Coenzyme Q10 offers antioxidants and immune support; take 100 to 200mg before bed. SAMe (s-adenosyl-L-methionine) promotes joint health; take 100 to 200mg in the morning on an empty stomach.
Cat's claw (20mg three times a day) , turmeric (300mg three times a day) and bromelain( 40mg three times a day) are powerful natural anti-inflammatory herbs.
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