Evolution of RA Therapy
Traditional RA treatment began with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and progressed slowly to disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). During recent decades, research has help doctors understand the immune system, biology, and genetics better so they can treat RA in ways that weren’t available before. Today, physicians tend to be more aggressive with their RA treatment approaches. Initiating DMARDs in at least the first three months following diagnoses can decrease disease activity and avoid joint disfigurement.
As RA treatment protocols have evolved from targeting symptoms to decreasing disease activity, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has updated its guidelines. Its four RA principles are:
- Sharing the decision-making process between patients and rheumatologists
- Maximizing patients’ ongoing health-related well-being
- Decreasing inflammation
- Using disease activity assessment tools and modifying RA treatments accordingly to achieve optimal outcomes
When ACR developed criteria to measure RA symptom changes, initial limitations allowed them to evaluate a 20-percent improvement at most. By 2007, 50- and 70-percent recovery levels were possible. This ACR score adjustment reflected the achievements of enhanced therapeutic agents and combination therapies.
Research demonstrates that patients who take active roles in their RA treatment experience less pain and require less doctor visits while enjoying an enhanced quality of life. Get up to 90-percent savings on Canada Drug Pharmacy prescription drugs for RA and many other conditions. Read customer reviews to discover the benefits of easy, efficient, online ordering.
Road to Remission
Today’s subjects have made remarkable improvements, compared to patients’ results from 20 years prior. A study following rheumatoid arthritis subjects from 1990 to 2011 found that improved medication options and treatment strategies reduced physical disabilities, anxiety, and moodiness substantially. Other studies show that these advancements have halved the quantity of new RA cases reaching disability status following four treated years. Drug therapy has decreased disease activity, enhanced physical functionality, and improved psychological well-being.
The Arthritis Foundation reports that almost 50 percent of the 1.5 million American RA patients may be able to achieve remission. Dr. Salahuddin Kazi, the VA Medical Center’s chief of rheumatology in Dallas, Texas, defines remission as morning stiffness for less than 15 minutes and going three or more months without swollen or tender joints. This desired state allows you to function without limitations and pain. If you aren’t there yet, Kazi advises requesting a higher dose or another medication so you can reach that goal.
According to rheumatology professor Dr. Désirée van der Heijde, M.D., initiating early aggressive treatment before damage occurs will increase your remission chances. Receiving drug therapy within the first two years following your RA symptom onset should give you over a 50-percent likelihood of reaching remission. Your odds could be even higher if your disease activity is mild and your test results are negative for blood markers like rheumatoid factor.
One research team concluded that delaying treatment up to five years after onset still provided a good possibility of remission. Another investigation discovered that none of the patients who achieved disease remission after six months of traditional DMARD treatment suffered work disabilities after five years. Heijde notes that disease activity should be low to moderate in 60 percent or more RA patients who don’t achieve remission, thanks to today’s treatments.
RA Management Tips
Dr. Chris Iliades, M.D., recommends multiple ways to improve your RA and enjoy life more.
Exercise can help minimize RA symptoms. Regular physical activity strengthens the muscles supporting your joints. Moving your joints regularly also helps preserve your range of motion.
Eat the right foods.
Balanced diets that promote general health will reduce extra pounds that can stress your joints. Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, vitamin D from fortified cereals and dairy products, along with selenium from whole grains.
Studies show that nonsmokers respond to some RA medications better than smokers.
RA is a stressful condition that other pressures can worsen. Stress makes pain more obvious and may trigger RA flares. Learn to recognize and limit stress through exercise, meditation, or relaxing warm baths.
Get adequate rest.
Sleep deprivation can aggravate RA symptoms. Strive to get seven to nine rejuvenating hours per night. Delay daily activities until morning stiffness passes, reserving energy for vital tasks.
RA may be challenging to endure alone, so request assistance and emotional support from family and friends. Decide what chores you need help accomplishing. Then ask loved ones to lighten specific household responsibilities. Express your feelings and concerns opening. Join an RA support group to exchange helpful tips and hope with fellow survivors.