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What is the Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Discover various treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, including medications, surgery, and lifestyle changes. Early intervention is key to managing symptoms.

  • 21 Feb 2024
  • 3 min read

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease causing joint inflammation and pain. This condition occurs when a person’s own immune system attacks the lining of the joints (synovium). The disease more commonly occurs in women than men, or if you have a family history of this disease. Rheumatoid arthritis mostly affects the hands, knees or ankles but can also affect the eyes, heart, circulatory system and lungs. While there is no cure, early diagnosis and prompt treatment can help patients deal with inflammation and joint pain. In this article, we’ll explore the different options for rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The following approach is used for rheumatoid arthritis treatment:


Treatment typically involves the use of prescribed medicines that include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 

Over-the-counter NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and naproxen help treat mild pain and swelling in the joints and muscles, common symptoms of RA.

  • Steroids

Prednisone and other corticosteroids may help reduce swelling, tenderness, and pain. In higher doses, these medicines can also ease the reaction of the immune system towards its own healthy tissue. 

  • Anti-malarial drugs

Medicines that prevent or treat malaria also treat symptoms related to arthritis, including joint pain and fatigue. The two common anti-malarial drugs are hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine phosphate.

  • Disease-modified Anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)

These medications are used to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Medicines such as sulfasalazine, methotrexate, and leflunomide help reduce pain and joint swelling and treat lesions. 

Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, also falling under DMARDs, are taken orally and help to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs include tofacitinib and upadacitinib.

  • Biologic agents

The use of biologics like tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin inhibitors (IL-17) can help control inflammation in the body.

  • Surgery 

Doctors may suggest surgery when the medications fail to prevent or slow joint damage related to RA. This may include a joint replacement surgery or an artificial joint implant which will help to restore your ability to use your joint and improve function. 

Also read:


Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong condition that requires careful treatment. Treatments should always be taken under the guidance and supervision of special orthopedic doctors. Apart from the above-mentioned options, regular testing, exercises and a balanced diet can help in maintaining the strength of bones and joints. Moreover, the costs of rheumatoid arthritis treatment can be quite high. This is where health insurance comes in. A good plan can cover you financially- from doctor’s consultations to expensive surgeries. 

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