Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints by inflammation causing redness, stiffness and swelling to the joints affected. A chronic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects joints on both sides of the body. That's how you can distinguish from other kinds of arthritis.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Joint pain and swelling

  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods

  • Fatigue

Rheumatoid arthritis usually develops gradually over the years. It depends on the person on how fast the affected disease will progress. Women are more likely to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis than men. It usually occurs in middle age, but the elderly and children can also be affected too. The cause is relatively unknown, but it it's thought to be disease with complications caused by genetic, environmental, or hormonal factors.

Diagnosis is based on several facts: location and symmetry of joints; morning joint stiffness; bumps or nodules under the skin; x-rays suggestive of rheumatoid arthritis; rheumatoid factor blood tests. A more specific test for rheumatoid arthritis is citrulline antibody which detects a more aggressive form of the disease. Having a positive Antinuclear test detects that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease.

Arthritis treatment includes medications, rest and exercise, and surgery to correct damages to the joints. The type of treatment is dependent on factors considering patients age, health, history and severity of arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis medications are used for arthritus treatment to decrease swelling, and stiffness that is caused by joint pain.

Anti-inflammatory painkiller drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen

  • Topical (applied directly to the skin) pain relievers

  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone

  • Narcotic pain relievers

There is other stronger medications too, call (DMARDs) disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Plaquenil (originally used to treat malaria)

  • Immune suppression drugs such as methotrexate, Imuran, Cytoxan, and cyclosporin

  • Biologic treatments, such as Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, Orencia, and Rituxan

  • Other drugs, such as Azulfidine and Arava

A group of drugs called biologics are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis; they are different than other drugs by modifying the immune system, and attacking components of the immune system to suppress inflammation with fewer side effects. Steroids are also used for inflammation caused from arthritis.

Here are several biologics approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis. They include:

  • Enbrel

  • Humira

  • Kineret

  • Remicade

  • Rituxan

  • Orencia

When joints are inflamed due to arthritis and are worst it is best to get as much rest as you can. If you have to rely on a cane to alleviate stress on the joints do it. A regular exercise program is valuable to get the joints flexible. Range of motion exercises should be done regularly for motion. Surgery will only be suggested when other treatment options are not working, and only to restore damaged joints. Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis an aggressive early detection has a better chance for less disability.