Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that can be addressed with various forms of treatment, and the pharmacist can play an important role in counseling the patient about these different treatments.
Pharmacists must let patients know they need to continue to manage their condition with medication, diet, and exercise, even though they are not experiencing any symptoms, to lessen its overall effects. Pharmacists also should remind patients that they need to monitor the disease with blood tests and x-rays continually.
The medications normally taken for RA include NSAIDs, corticosteroids, antirheumatic drugs, and biologic agents. The drug routine is rather complicated, and patients need to monitor it carefully, as well as make sure they are under the care of a rheumatologist.
Some of the drugs are potent, and side effects can be harsh, so pharmacists should discuss medications and their effects with the patients.
Pain with RA can be severe, and patients may be taking medication to relieve it. This is another area where pharmacists can discuss treatment, talking to patients about the severity of the pain, and what medications they can take for it, as well as any supplements that might help.
Another aspect of treatment where pharmacists can help with counseling is diet. Certain foods help to control inflammation and the symptoms of RA. These foods include fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, beans, and lentils. Other foods, such as fish oil and turmeric, have beneficial effects in controlling inflammation as well. Patients should also take vitamin D to help prevent bone loss.
Regular physical activity is important for people with RA. However, RA patients need to take care that they don’t attempt anything too demanding because this may only inflame their condition. Swimming is recommended for people with RA because it does not involve any weight-bearing activity.
Physical activity helps to prevent the joints from becoming deformed and also to maintain flexibility.
As the disease becomes more advanced, pharmacists can recommend devices to help patients get around, many of which are available at pharmacies. These include such things as reachers, grab bars and raised toilet seats.
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