Early treatment should provide control of inflammation – control of pain, swelling and stiffness, and help prevent development of joint deformity and damage. Both skin and joint manifestations need attention.
Manage the joints to minimize or prevent joint destruction
Control of inflammation prevents joint destruction. At the same time, avoiding unnecessary stress on affected joints will also help prevent joint destruction. Maintaining normal range of movement in the joints is important.
Control of pain and stiffness
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin, or the newer cox-2 selective inhibitors such as celecoxib, rofecoxib, or valdecoxib help to control pain and stiffness. If the inflammation is mild, these medications may be sufficient.
In addition to these medications, rest during acute attacks of inflammation is important, and regular exercise to maintain joint function is important.
For more severe inflammation, Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) are indicated. Read more about these drugs in the next sections in Medical Treatments.