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Top 10 Clinical Facts about Rheumatoid Arthritis

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The last two decades have seen major advances in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers recognize that the disease ranges from mild to severe, and the treatment should be individualized. A team in Austria collected ten clinical facts that are important for rheumatoid arthritis patients and their doctors:

1. The best way to monitor rheumatoid arthritis, in order to choose treatment options, is to use a composite index of symptoms and laboratory tests. These include swollen joint counts, tender joint counts, morning stiffness, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein in the blood.

2. Joint damage from the inflammatory process (disease activity) is the distinguishing characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. Other forms of joint disease have similar symptoms but follow a different course. There are two types of damage that can develop separately: joint space narrowing and erosions. These can be monitored by X-ray.

3. Disability can be measured in terms of disease activity (inflammation) and joint destruction. The activity of the disease is reversible, as medication can fully stop the inflammatory process in many cases. Joint destruction, however, is irreversible.

4. The severity of the disease is highly variable from one patient to the next. Greater severity is associated with cardiovascular disease, lymphoma, and loss of ability to work.

5. The goal of therapy should be the lowest possible disease activity. Ideally, the process of inflammatory damage to the joints should be stopped to qualify for remission.

6. Early diagnosis and treatment produce much better results than delayed therapy. The destructive process begins within the first few weeks or months of rheumatoid arthritis, and most patients have permanent joint damage within two years. Unfortunately, current data for diagnosis are based on patients with long-term disease. Criteria for early diagnosis remain a research challenge.

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EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for the information.

SBF Health Care in Bangalore and Mumbai provides treatment for Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Aktis, Arthroscopy, Physiotherapy, Knee Joint Pain, Osteoarthritis Knee, Osteoarthritis Treatment, Knee Surgery, Knee Replacement, Knee Pain, Total Knee Replacement, Knee Arthroscopy, Articular Cartilage, Arthritis Symptoms, Arthritis Treatment, Pain Knee, Arthritis Knee Pain, Arthritis Pain, Arthritis Joint Pain, QMR Therapy and Medical Tourism in India.


January 7, 2011 - 9:56pm

Thank you for this comment. I wrote that item as a report on what I found in the reference, which is a recent article from the medical literature. However, I am aware that the medical literature is biased toward the use of expensive drugs. For my personal health, I always try the safest options first. I wrote another article on the risks and benefits of TNF inhibitors: http://www.empowher.com/news/herarticle/2009/12/17/tnf-blockers-miracle-drugs-or-minefields

April 13, 2010 - 11:30am
EmpowHER Guest

It's misleading to say "8. Remission is highly achievable with a combination of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors and methotrexate". While this combination achieves remission for some people, for others it does not, and there are no cookie cutter routes to remission. There are numerous ways a patient can achieve remission, sometimes with much less serious drugs than TNF inhibitors. (For example, I was able to achieve remission from RA with a combination of low dose antibiotics and a gluten free diet.)

While MTX and TNF inhibitors are useful when other treatments have failed, think it does a diservice to people with RA and their caregivers to imply that the use of these heavy duty drugs are the only way to acheive remission when in truth there are other, less harmful options available to them.

April 13, 2010 - 11:11am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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