RA Treatment: Then and Now
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Rheumatoid arthritis treatment has changed from painkillers and corticosteroids as the primary treatment to DMARDs and biologics. Learn about the evolution of RA medication.
Transcript: Any health practitioner will be PLEASED to tell you -- rheumatoid arthritis treatment has come a VERY...
Any health practitioner will be PLEASED to tell you -- rheumatoid arthritis treatment has come a VERY long way. A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis USED TO mean a future inevitably packaged with a wheelchair and debilitating pain. TODAY, modern medicine has advanced so much that RA patients may never see a wheelchair. Up until the early 1950s, aspirin and intramuscular gold salts were the only medications available to manage RA. But aspirin simply dulled the pain and gold salts, though effective against joint inflammation, caused severe side effects in up to 30% of people using them. Then along came the wonder-steroid, cortisone, which quickly blocked joint inflammation and seemed to have fewer side effects. But soon enough, long-term use of corticosteroids was found to cause osteoporosis, increased risk of infection, water retention and weight gain. Then in 1988, the Food and Drug Administration approved an alternative- METHOTREXATE. Originally developed to treat certain types of cancer, methotrexate is STILL the most prescribed traditional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug or DMARD. In 1998, DMARDs advanced even further. That's the year the FIRST biologic response modifier, etanercept, was approved for treatment of RA. Other biologics, such as infliximab and adalimumab, QUICKLY followed. These drugs can actually SLOW the progression of RA by targeting specific immune system activities that trigger joint inflammation. So how is RA treated today? Healthcare providers still occasionally prescribe gold salts to those who can't take methotrexate or don't respond to it, but most patients go on a therapy using methotrexate and/or a biologic. People with RA also use anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroids for fast relief of painful flares or to relieve pain while waiting for DMARDs to start working. While rheumatoid arthritis is a complicated condition, your prognosis for a good quality of life is MUCH better now, than in the past.More »
Last Modified: 2016-10-04 | Tags »
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