Valerie Smith, APRN
Rheumatic Disease Treatment Plans Designed With You In Mind
Updated: Jul 6, 2022
A rheumatic disease diagnosis is a life-changing event.
Here at Paducah Rheumatology, we understand that living with a rheumatic disease can be an overwhelming endeavor.
We see the setbacks. We witness the difficulties. We feel the heartaches.
And we want to help!
Our mission is to provide the best possible care to help our patients not only improve their quality of life, but to be able to maintain it as well.
That’s why we create individualized treatment plans for every one of our patients to ensure their specific physical and emotional needs are met based upon their particular diagnosis and symptoms.
A well-designed treatment plan is not a one-size-fits-all plan, nor is it a one-and-done plan.
Rather, treatment plans come in all varieties and can even change over time due to disease progression and the addition (or subtraction) of symptoms.
Let’s look at the various methods, strategies, and resources that we have found useful and beneficial when treating our patients that have been diagnosed with a rheumatic disease.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - Such as aspirin and ibuprofen, these types of drugs are designed to reduce inflammation, decrease swelling, and manage pain. Almost two dozen different NSAIDs - prescription and over-the-counter options - are available.
Corticosteroids - Acute flare-ups are often treated with corticosteroids to provide relief to inflamed areas as quickly as possible. Systemic corticosteroids come as oral pills or injections.
Immune-suppressing drugs (immunosuppressants) - Rheumatic diseases are often a result of an overactive immune system. Immunosuppressants work to protect healthy cells and tissues by inhibiting the immune system’s activity.
Infusion therapy (biological therapy) - Infusion treatments can help relieve the symptoms of a variety of rheumatic diseases. Infused biological drugs are typically reserved for patients that are highly symptomatic and not responding to oral medications. Patients can receive treatments in a hospital setting or at our very own Paducah Rheumatology Infusion Suite.
Physical therapy (PT) - Rheumatic diseases feed on inactivity. Movement is a vital part of managing arthritis-like symptoms such as stiffness, pain, and swelling. Physical therapy can help to increase a person’s strength, maintain the health of joints, improve flexibility, and more.
Occupational therapy (OT) - Similar to physical therapy, rheumatology patients receive occupational therapy to be able to better manage their rheumatic disease symptoms. Occupational therapy is especially helpful for patients that struggle to use their wrists, hands, and elbows and need to improve their fine or gross motor skills.
Vitamin/herbal supplements - Many patients battle the effects of vitamin deficiencies and find that taking supplements can be an instrumental component of their disease management. From vitamin D, A, C, and B12 to omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, curcumin, and turmeric, there is a long list of vitamins and herbs that are known to provide a wide range of benefits to rheumatic patients.
Skin creams - Skin disorders can coincide with rheumatic diseases. A topical cream or ointment, typically containing a steroid, can be applied to some types of rashes to relieve the itchiness, redness, and swelling.
Heart health - Rheumatic diseases can increase the risk of developing heart disease. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol within healthy ranges is an important element of managing a rheumatic disease.
Diet - Your food choices matter. Research suggests that certain foods can contribute to inflammation, and that’s why an anti-inflammatory diet (commonly referred to as the Mediterranean diet) is a popular pick among our patients. Learn more about the variety of foods that are a part of this diet here and here.
Exercise - Did you know that fat tissue produces inflammatory cytokines? Maintaining a healthy weight best suited for your height and body structure is an excellent form of treatment and can minimize the onset of additional health problems. Not to mention, obesity increases the wear and tear on already irritated joints. Read more about the importance of weight management here.
Mental health - Emotional wellbeing goes hand-in-hand with physical wellness. At Paducah Rheumatology, we are advocates of supporting the emotional and mental health of our patients alongside the treatment of their physical ailments. Check out our mental health checklist here.
Lifestyle choices - Studies indicate that the use of tobacco products can increase a person’s likelihood of developing a rheumatic disease, and if already diagnosed, can worsen their symptoms. If you smoke, consider quitting to improve your rheumatic health.
Sleep - Quality rest can be hard to come by when living with a rheumatic disease, but the body needs sleep to function at its best. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, our team at Paducah Rheumatology wants to know and we will seek a solution to help you get some shuteye.
The Goal of a Personalized Treatment Plan
There is no single medication, therapy, supplement, lifestyle, or action plan that can cure a rheumatic disease.
The goal of a treatment plan is to improve a patient’s quality of life while also working to minimize pain, reduce inflammation, decrease disease progression, increase physical capabilities, manage symptoms, and support mental health.
The list of treatment options goes on and on. Some patients also incorporate into their treatment plan:
Ice Packs/Heating Pads
Extra dental exams
Treatment plans are meant to be molded and tweaked to cater to the needs of a patient, and that’s exactly what we do at Paducah Rheumatology.
Are you ready to gain control of your rheumatic disease?!
Let’s work together to take the necessary steps to manage your health and wellbeing.
We are here to support you through the unexpected bumps in the road, and ready to cheer you on during the triumphs and successes.
Give us a call today at 270-408-6100. We are accepting new patients with a physician's referral and would love to see you!