Dr. Ruderman shares the treatments that are available for rheumatoid arthritis.
So there are actually several different types of treatments available for rheumatoid arthritis. First, we do have medications that reduce symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like Naproxen, like ibuprofen can be very helpful for some of the minor symptoms.
Corticosteroids, prednisone - very helpful for pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. We think of those as symptomatic therapies, they do not really treat the underlying disease process. To treat the disease we really feel these days that every patient with rheumatoid arthritis should be taking what we call a disease modifying antirheumatic drug or DMARD. Those are drugs that we actually think control the disease process and not only reduce symptoms but stop the damage that occurs if the disease is left unchecked.
Classically, the most commonly used disease-modifying drug we have is a drug called methotrexate which was originally used as a chemotherapy agent in high doses. In very low doses in rheumatoid arthritis, It can do a great job in controlling the disease and it really is sort of our anchor for therapy.
More recently, we have been using a lot of drugs known as biologic response modifiers or biologic disease modifiers and these are drugs like etanercept or adalimumab or infliximab that are targeted at specific places within the immune systems. So once you understand the biology of rheumatoid arthritis and understand sort of what the process is that goes on in the immune system that drives the ongoing inflammation, these are agents that can actually target specific places in that process and shut it off.
About Dr. Ruderman, M.D.:
Dr. Eric M. Ruderman, M.D., is associate professor in the division of rheumatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a board member of the Arthritis Foundation of Greater Chicago.
Dr. Ruderman graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, New York. He completed his residence at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and his fellowship training in rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.