What is the best approach to supporting patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

Updated: Feb 07, 2020
  • Author: Howard R Smith, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Persons with long-standing severe disease who have already sustained much irreversible joint destruction benefit from an emphasis on comfort measures, supportive counseling, and attention to minimizing further debility. Such patients need help in grieving for their disfigurement and loss of function.

An accepting, unhurried, empathic manner allows the patient to express feelings. The seemingly insignificant act of touching does much to restore a sense of self-acceptance. Attending to pain with increased social support, medication, and a refocusing of attention to function is useful. A trusting and strong patient-doctor relationship can do much to sustain a patient through times of discomfort and disability.

For more information, see the Arthritis Center and Pain Management Center, as well as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Chronic Pain.


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