How joint pain and the destruction of cartilage are related is not fully understood. Cartilage itself does not cause pain because there are no nerve structures in cartilage to transmit pain signals. Most likely, the pain of rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the irritation of other tissues in and around the affected joints. This irritation may be caused by chemical-messenger substances, such as prostaglandin E2, that are associated with the disease process. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce pain because they inhibit the production of prostaglandins.
Many aspects of rheumatoid arthritis symptom can be managed successfully through self-care. This includes balancing exercise and rest, eating healthy foods, and caring for your emotional health during stressful times. Self-care also means protecting your joints during ordinary tasks and applying local treatments rheumatoid arthritis for pain. Healthy habits can make a big difference in caring for rheumatoid arthritis symptom and can reduce the need for medications that have serious side effects.
Exercise can protect your body and make you feel better. Your doctor or physical therapist can help choose the best way to strengthen your muscles, get aerobic exercise, and use the full range of motion of your joints.
Other medications that represent a novel approach to the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis symptom and are the products of modern biotechnology.
Etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), and adalimumab (Humira) are biologic medications. These medications intercept a protein in the joints (tumor necrosis factor, or TNF) that causes inflammation before it can act on its natural receptor to "switch on " inflammation. This effectively blocks the TNF inflammation messenger from calling out to the cells of inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis symptom can be significantly, and often rapidly, improved in patients using these drugs.
Surgery may be recommended to restore joint mobility or repair damaged joints. Doctors who specialize in joint surgery are orthopedic surgeons. The types of joint surgery range from arthroscopy to partial and complete replacement of the joint. Arthroscopy is a surgical technique whereby a doctor inserts a tube-like instrument into the joint to see and repair abnormal tissues.
"Total joint replacement" is a surgical procedure whereby a destroyed joint is replaced with artificial materials. For example, the small joints of the hand can be replaced with plastic material. Large joints, such as the hips or knees, are replaced with metals.