There is no way to prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis has improved dramatically in the past 50 years. A comprehensive approach that combines medications, rest balanced with exercise, lifestyle modifications, and sometimes surgery, can help many people to lead normal lives. The most important goals in treating rheumatoid arthritis are maintaining your ability to move and function, reducing pain, and preventing future joint damage. If these are achieved, quality of life and length of life may be normal. The treatments themselves may cause problems. You and your doctor will have to weigh the risks and benefits of any medication or other treatment that is available for this disease.
Medication Certain medications relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (such as pain and swelling), while other medications slow the progress of the disease.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including prescription aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin and other brand names) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), can help relieve symptoms. Side effects occur in a minority of patients. These include upset stomach, ulcers, reduced kidney function or allergic reactions.
Newer NSAIDs, including celecoxib (Celebrex) and valdecoxib (Bextra), may provide the same benefits as older medications but with less risk of ulcers. However, the risk may be less but it is not zero. One study showed that for people at highest risk (those with recent bleeding ulcer), up to 10% of those treated with celecoxib developed a new ulcer. In addition, the risk was similar for these high-risk patients when taking an older agent (diclofenac) combined with a medication to protect the stomach (omeprazole).
The newer drugs cost more and have other possible side effects. Alert:Â Please read this important notice about COX-2 inhibitors including rofecoxib (Vioxx), which has been voluntarily withdrawn from the market.
Other pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or tramadol (Ultram), may provide additional pain relief when taken with an NSAID.