Pharmaceutical treatment has two main objectives, namely to alleviate the pain and to halt the progression of the illness to prevent disability.

The main manifestation it takes is severe pain suffered by the patient, with management of RA requiring a multidisciplinary approach. Many health professionals are involved in treatment: a GP, specialist (rheumatologist), nurses and physiotherapists.

Types of treatments

In addition, there are different types of treatment for the illness.
- Treatment for the symptom of pain, which comprises, in addition to rest, the prescription of pain medication: painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids (steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). In addition to medication, necessary treatments may include orthotics as well as occupational therapy and rehab sessions.
- Basic treatment for the illness, which aims to limit the intensity and number of flare-ups. This means reducing the progression of the illness as much as possible.
The choice and adjustment of basic treatments should always be made by the rheumatologist on the basis of:
- The estimated potential severity of the illness;
- The risk/benefit ratio, taking the potential progression of the illness into account;
- The speed of action of the molecules that could affect the inflammation (e.g. methotrexate, leflunomide);
- The demonstrated effect on a reduction in the progression of radiological signs;
- The possible presence of associated comorbidities.
Ultimately, these treatments are only effective if they are taken regularly and over the long term (several months). Today, it is not possible to cure the illness entirely, but it is possible to hinder or slow down its progression and to alleviate the pain.
In addition, biotherapy such as anti-TNFα is currently proving to be very effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, these new treatments are managing to relieve pain in patients significantly at the same time as halting the progression of the illness.

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