“There are many different types of joint disease. Among inflammatory causes involving many joints, rheumatoid arthritis is the most common.”
Peter C. Taylor (Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences at the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is estimated to affect approximately 0.24 to 1% of the population (geo-dependent) and is considered around twice as common in women as it is in men.
The cause of what triggers RA to mistakenly attack cells lining the joints is not clear, but since it’s an autoimmune disease, it can affect internal organs like the heart, lungs and eyes, as well as joints. Among many risk factors, the chances of getting RA increases if you’re a woman, have a family history of RA or smoke.
As our touchREVIEWS in RMD Editor-in-Chief Peter C. Taylor highlights:
“For those people who have rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to effective treatments, it is very helpful to stop smoking if relevant, and to optimise body weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise as appropriate for the individual.”
Though there is no cure for RA, early diagnosis and treatment means that many people affected can go for longer periods without ‘flare ups’ – sometimes months or years. As Peter C. Taylor notes, “There have been enormous advances in the development of effective treatments for this condition in recent decades and there are now many available medications.”
Editorial Board Member, Prof. Jérôme Avouac, (Rheumatologist, Université de Paris, Hôpital Cochin, Service de Rhumatologie, Paris, France), concurs, saying, “Considerable advances have been achieved over recent years for the treatment and management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).”
Further, though poor long-term outcomes have been reduced by using more aggressive treatment strategies and more effective drugs, the remaining disease burden still contributes to a substantial health and economic burden on society.
Prof. Jérôme Avouac adds, “Despite these progresses, several issues that interfere with disease management persist including early identification of the disease, comorbidities or multidrug resistance. Hopefully, several perspectives are emerging to counteract these issues and improve patient care. Precision medicine with the validation of therapeutic strategy guided by OMICS approaches may modify the management of RA in general and patients with refractory disease in particular.”
Awareness of the condition and catching the signs early are integral to receiving the most effective treatment.
Peter C. Taylor insists that, “the best outcomes are associated with early identification of disease and rapid initiation of therapy” urging anyone who “develops features such as persistent joint swelling, prolonged joint stiffness, particularly in the morning, and tenderness on squeezing the knuckles or toes” to “see your doctor”.
Prof. Jérôme Avouac adds that to have a better chance of positively impacting treatment efficacy, it’s important to have “… patient-centred care of the disease based on education, shared decision-making and self-management…” which may also affect “… tolerability and costs, and also be a vector of opportunities to increase medication adherence.”
NRAS’s aim is to spread greater awareness of what to look out for, so more people seek the right help sooner, and also to dispel myths surrounding RA through their 2022 #RAFactOrFiction campaign (get involved).
touchIMMUNOLOGY supports Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week (RAAW) and its global goal to find better treatments and improve the lives of people with RA. Learn more by delving into our content library of video interviews, conference highlights, journal articles and clinical trial updates.
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