Our elders may be living and dealing with the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The strength to deal with aches and pain is a part of what has enabled them to live a long life. But with rheumatoid arthritis, there is a need to enlist the help of medical professionals. Your primary care physician – someone you see on a regular basis – will need to have access to your medical history and a recent physical examination. Doctors are looking for certain features of rheumatoid arthritis, which may include limited motion in joints throughout your body, swelling, or surface skin warmth. There may also appear lumps of tissue under the skin.

Are your elderly parents experiencing an overall feeling of stiffness? Their physician may recommend certain blood tests to identify antibodies, levels of inflammation and other markers that aid diagnosis and assessments. The doctor may request x-rays to determine if there is bone loss or loss of joint cartilage (erosions) at the edges of joints.

Highly effective treatments exist for rheumatoid arthritis. Once you have a diagnosis, you should begin treatment right away to slow disease progression and lower chances for joint damage. Medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can be divided into two groups: those that help relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and those that can modify the disease or put it in remission (anti-rheumatic drugs). Your physician may recommend using two or more together. Some medications may affect your immune system, which therefore requires careful monitoring.

Engaging in moderate physical activity on a regular basis will help those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Being in good health includes regular exercise for muscles and bones. This can increase stamina, flexibility, strength, and improve your general sense of well-being. Consider speaking with your physician (or a personal trainer) to develop a full exercise regimen. For example, a program might include stretching for joint flexibility and range of motion; strength training for joint support; and aerobic exercise for overall health, weight control, muscle strength and energy level.

Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there is constant research and development on new medications to improve treatment options.