Is it possible to combat RA with regular exercise and diet as opposed to taking steroids to decrease joint inflammation?

Ask the Doctor: Questions about Rheumatoid Arthritis


Stephen A. Paget, MD, FACP, FACR

Physician-in-Chief Emeritus, Hospital for Special Surgery

Answer:

Regular exercise and diet are indeed very important parts of the treatment of RA. Steroids such as prednisone can also be very helpful in controlling inflammation but should never be used as the sole drug and we try to use it in short courses and not chronically. However, in this day and age, with our amazing new medications for RA, exercise, diet, and steroids alone are not appropriate. Just imagine using leeches for the treatment of infections once antibiotics were found to be effective. The same can be said to be true today regarding RA. Since untreated RA ( and the sole use of exercise, diet and steroids would be considered untreated RA) will go on, inexorably, to cause joint damage and we can now avoid that with new medications, it behooves you to strongly consider adding new, innovative medications to the treatment plan that you mention.


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