Study Reveals Important Advance for Newly Diagnosed Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers

Study Reveals Important Advance for Newly Diagnosed Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers

By Staff

New research out of The Universities of Manchester and East Anglia shows that people living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) experience significant improvement in their daily lives due to early and more aggressive treatment of the disease.

The Arthritis Research UK study examined 20 years of data between 1990 and 2010. A total of 602 patients participated in the study led by James Gwinnutt, from The University of Manchester and Dr. Suzan Verstappen University of Manchester.

Participants were recruited to the Norfolk Arthritis Register and assessed at regular intervals over the course of 20 years.

They found that patients who were prescribed disease modifying drug therapies such as sulfasalazine, methotrexate and steroids within 6 months of symptom onset experienced significantly better ability to walk, grip and dress themselves over the course of 20 years compared, to patients who were treated later.

“This research shows that patients who received treatment early after symptom onset had similar levels of disability over the subsequent 20 years compared to patients who were judged by clinicians not to require treatment, after accounting for the differences in disease severity between the groups,” Gwinnutt said.

“Though there is a broad range in terms of how people are affected by the disease, the number of patients whose lives have improved has increased thanks in part to early treatment.  The good news is that early intervention has become more and more common in the NHS over these past 20 years. In the early 1990s early intervention would happen in about 30% of cases. Nowadays, that figure is probably more like 60-70%. There’s no reason why this improvement could not extend further,” he added.

Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said:

“Rheumatoid arthritis is an incredibly painful condition that can be diagnosed at any age and can have an impact on a person’s everyday life. This study confirms how important early diagnosis and the commencement of treatment is. It is also encouraging to hear about the progress that has been made over the last 20 years.  Now the scientific community must continue to build on this so that together we can continue to harness the power of exceptional science and make everyday life better for all people with arthritis.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation and pain.

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Authored by: Staff

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Bob Schubring at 11:17 pm

    This example amply demonstrates the importance of taking pain seriously. We don’t imagine that we hurt. And no, Senator Schumer and Senator Manchin, putting a tax on pain medication won’t give us incentives to ignore the pain or “take a vacation from pain”. People hurt because something​ inside us is malfunctioning. Telling us to ignore the malfunction and the pain it causes, is grossly irresponsible.

    The study clearly shows that when doctors take pain seriously and find rheumatoid arthritis is causing it, treatment that arrests the disease from progressing, prevents joint damage and disability from the joint damage.

    More reasons why politicians need to stop practicing medicine without a license.

  2. Jean Price at 11:48 am

    In response to the last line of this article….Rheumatoid Arthritis is NOT a disease that only causes pain and joint inflammation! Along with actual permanent joint DAMAGE, RA affects the muscles….including the heart!….tendons, ligaments, the lungs, in effect….the whole system! Usually the only visible damage is in the joints, howverver RA takes its toll on the entire body!

    It’s has been fairly well known for a long while that disease modifying medications for RA, (known primarily as biologics), are appropriate to give early on….to actually PREVENT more joint damage and other problems. Whereas the methotrexate and the steroids only SUPPOSEDLY treat symptoms. (However they may actually be a new first time treatment approach resulting in remission of the disease, from the findings in another study!). At any rate, These study reports…or maybe it’s the article…. make little sense to me!! Especially if the paragraph on the similarities of untreated patients and those treated early are true! That just doesn’t seem possible!

    It was in Belgium, I believe, that the study I mentioned showed many patients who were FIRST treated with a combination approach of methotrexate and steroids…BEFORE using ANY other treatment… went on to have complete REMISSIONS from their RA!! Now that WOULD be amazing! I actually read about this AFTER my daughter (who lives in New York) was diagnosed with RA and treated with this very SAME approach. In fact, she had already gone into remission at the time I read about this, and had even discontinued the meds…this was over eight years ago…with no return of symptoms at all! Her hands were so severe at the time of diagnosis she would wake up if the sheets barely touched them. And she also had a lot of trouble walking due to her ankles and feet being involved! Not a good thing if you live in NYC!! Yet now, she is totally pain free!

    Sadly, this type of treatment regimen doesn’t seem to even be talked about or to have caught on In our country….for those first diagnosed. And I’m not sure why that is! Biologicals are much more expensive, and most require an infusion in a doctor’s office setting, (although self injections and tablets are available for some of them, but astronomically more expensive, with the cost dependent on drug plan coverage…rather than medical insurance coverage in general.) Hopefully it’s NOT just the profit issues driving this potentially better treatment to NOT be used, or used less….yet money does come to mind!!

    I’m just so thankful my daughter’s doctor used the steroid and methotrexate combination as her first treatment! She may never have further problems,…and if this is true, I would think ALL OF MEDICAL SCIENCE could be looking at this as perhaps a simple CURE—-or at least figuring out why this worked so well for some! And ALSO seeing if perhaps other autoimmune diseases might respond in similar ways!