What exactly is rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and what can be done about it?
How can a person find out if they have rheumatoid arthritis? The joints of the hands and feet are most frequently stiff, sore and sometimes swollen. Other joints and the neck can be involved. Morning stiffness typically lasts at least a half hour. RA can also lead to fatigue, dry mouth, dry eye, and numbness. Rheumatologists – physicians trained in musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases – can ask detailed questions and order lab tests, xrays and other tests if needed. This evaluation can distinguish RA from more common “mechanical” joint pains (wear and tear, injuries, and overuse) and other ailments such as lupus, fibromyalgia, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome, and Lyme disease.
There is no specific treatment that works best for everyone with rheumatoid arthritis, so the strategy is to “treat to target”. A doctor and patient will discuss the best initial therapy. Most often this will be a “DMARD” (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug). If RA has not improved enough once the drug has “kicked in”, then therapy can be augmented with other medicines. Several different kinds of medications can be used, ranging from pills to specialized home injections and in-office infusions. The process of getting RA under control may take 1 to 2 years; meanwhile anti-inflammatory treatments can help reduce pain and let people get back to their work, hobbies and lifestyle.
Overall, rheumatoid arthritis is a very treatable disease. Specialized medications used in a “treat to target” strategy can prevent joint damage and disability. But there is no known cure for RA. It is hoped that future clinical research will identify not only new medicines, but also tools to predict which treatments will work in each specific person, and when medications might be stopped without provoking the disease to recur.
Additional information regarding Rheumatoid Arthritis can be found Here.
Infusion treatment medications include: