Category Archives: News

October 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

The Arthritis Foundation is your trusted source for arthritis-related news and COVID updates that affect people with arthritis. Here’s a wrap-up of the headlines from this past month.

The latest in COVID-19 News & Arthritis

FDA Committee Greenlights COVID Vaccines for Young Kids

The Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted by a majority to authorize the emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID vaccine for children ages 5 through 11. Read the latest.

FDA Authorizes Boosters for Moderna and J & J, Allows Mixing

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized booster doses for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, while also allowing boosters to be given interchangeably with any of the other vaccines in people who are eligible to get them. Learn more.

CDC Research Shows Children Equally Vulnerable as Adults to COVID

According to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children had similar infection rates, compared with adults, confirming there is risk of people of all ages. The research revealed that schools without mask requirements were three-and-a-half times more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks than those enforcing mask mandates. Read more about it.

Get the latest on managing your arthritis during the COVID pandemic in the Care & Connect resource center.

In Other Arthritis News

Prevalence of Arthritis in the U.S. Continues to Rise

National prevalence of arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitations continue to increase. According to the CDC, 58.5 million (23.7%) U.S. adults now have arthritis — 25.7% of whom have arthritis-attributable activity limitations. Read more about the impact of arthritis.

New Finding: 71% of Active Adults With Arthritis Walk for Physical Activity

Physical activity can reduce pain, disability and functional limitations while also improving mental health and quality of life in adults with arthritis. Just over one-third of adults with arthritis are aerobically active. New research from the CDC shows approximately 71% of adults with arthritis who were physically active in the past month reported walking as one of their two most frequent activities. Learn how other activities ranked.

And be sure to check out Walk With Ease, the Arthritis Foundation’s walking program proven to reduce arthritis symptoms and improve health.

FDA Approves Combo Pill for Severe, Acute Pain

The FDA has approved a combination pill containing celecoxib and tramadol for the treatment of adults with acute pain severe enough to require an opioid analgesic and for which alternative treatments fail to provide adequate pain relief. Get the details here.

To learn more ways to take control of pain, visit

FDA Approves First Nasal Spray to Treat Dry Eye

The FDA has approved varenicline solution (Tyrvaya), the first nasal spray given the greenlight to treat dry eye disease. Varenicline solution will provide an alternative to the immunomodulators currently available.

Learn about the connection between dry eyes and arthritis.

Updates to Guidance for Shingles and Pneumococcal Vaccines

The CDC Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend zoster vaccine recombinant, adjuvanted (Shingrix) for the prevention of shingles in immunodeficient or immunosuppressed adults age 19 or older. During the same meeting, ACIP also voted to recommend pneumococcal vaccines for routine use in adults older than 65 and in adults ages 19 to 64 with chronic conditions such as diabetes, chronic heart disease, chronic liver disease and HIV, and disease risk factors like smoking and alcoholism.

National Emergency Declared for Mental Health in Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and Children’s Hospital Association have declared a national emergency in children’s mental health. According to the organizations, COVID-19 has taken a serious toll on top of already mounting challenges and policy changes are urgently needed.

Know the signs and how to recognize emotional distress in your child with juvenile arthritis.

High-Intensity Resistance Training Bests Pilates for Better Bone Density in the Spine

An eight-month high-intensity resistance and impact training program (HiRIT, Onero) led to greater gains in lumbar spine bone mineral density (BMD) and leg/back strength than a low-intensity Pilates-based program. Learn more.

Retraining the Brain May Help Relieve Chronic Back Pain

A patient’s perception of pain plays a key role in pain outcome, according to new research. Psychological therapy that changes an individual’s beliefs about pain not only provides lasting chronic pain relief but also alters brain regions related to pain generation. Read more about it.

Exercise Appears to Improve Bone Structure, Not Density

A recent study concludes there’s much more to bone health than strictly bone density and that postmenopausal women with low bone mass should obtain adequate calcium and vitamin D as well as participate in bone-loading exercises. Learn more.

September 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

The Arthritis Foundation is your trusted source for arthritis-related news and COVID updates that affect people with arthritis. Here’s a wrap-up of the headlines from this past month.

The Latest in COVID-19 News and Arthritis

WHO Monitors New ‘Mu’ COVID-19 Variant

The World Health Organization is monitoring a new coronavirus variant called “mu,” which the agency says has mutations that have the potential to evade immunity provided by a previous COVID-19 infection or vaccination. Get details here.

NIH to Study COVID Vaccine Booster in Autoimmune Patients

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has begun a phase 2 trial to assess the antibody response to a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccine in people with autoimmune disease who did not respond to their original COVID-19 vaccine regimen.

COVID-19 Vaccine Elicits Antibodies in 90% Taking Immunosuppressants

Nearly 90% of people taking immunosuppressants to treat autoimmune conditions produce an antibody response to COVID-19 vaccination, but the response is weaker than those generated by healthy people, according to a new study. Learn more.

Get the latest on Arthritis and COVID-19 vaccines FAQs in our Care and Connect resource hub.

Nasal Cartilage Relieves Knee Osteoarthritis

Cartilage cells from the nasal septum cannot only help repair cartilage injuries in the knee — they can also withstand the chronic inflammatory tissue environment in osteoarthritis (OA) and even counteract the inflammation, according to researchers at the University of Basel and the University Hospital of Basel. Read all about it.

Drug Adherence Tied to Genetic Influences, Not Side Effects

The results of new research suggest that drug adherence pertains more to an individual’s genetic predisposition to particular behaviors than to underlying biological factors, such as the adverse effects of a specific drug, the researchers conclude. Learn more.

Cannabis Use Tied to Poorer Outcomes of Total Hip, Knee Replacement

Cannabis use before total knee or hip replacement is associated with increased medical and implant-related complications, according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Read more.

The Arthritis Foundation developed guidance for adults with arthritis who are exploring CBD use as a treatment for managing pain and other symptoms of arthritis. Learn more about what you should know about CBD before trying it.

And learn more about total knee and hip arthroplasty. If you’re exploring whether surgery is right for you, listen to the podcast episode on Arthritis Pain & Surgery.

In Other Arthritis News

Arthritis@Work for Corporate Wellness Programs

The Arthritis Foundation is offering employers free turnkey tools and resources to support their employees with arthritis. As the second largest driver of employee health care costs, arthritis is responsible for 172 million lost workdays each year. Integrated into existing corporate wellness programs, Arthritis@Work is a win-win way for employers to protect their bottom line by caring for those who care for their business.

Novartis Gets FDA Fast-Track Designation for LNA043 in Knee OA

The Swiss drug maker said it is developing LNA043 as a potential first-in-class disease-modifying treatment for OA. The FDA’s fast-track program is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of treatments for serious or potentially life-threatening illnesses with high unmet medical needs.

No Sex Difference Seen for Ankylosing Spondylitis

The incidence of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) did not differ between men and women in a large study of military personnel, which called into question the previous assumption of male predominance for this disease. Read about the study.

Osteoarthritis: New Genetic Risk Factors and Novel Drug Targets

Researchers have found new genetic risk factors for OA and identified novel drug targets. Their finding is a milestone toward the development of the first ever curative treatment for OA. Learn more.

TPX-100 Delays Bone Shape Change, Stabilizes Cartilage in Bilateral Knee OA

TPX-100, a promotor of osteoblast and chondroblast differentiation, is a potential therapy for OA. A new retrospective study compared MRI 3D femoral bone shape changes (B-scores) after intra-articular TPX-100 or placebo and analyzed the relationship between cartilage thickness and bone shape change over 12 months.

For pain management resources and tools, visit

Yoga: So Much More Than Just Movement

By Rebecca Gillett, MS OTR/L, Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast Co-host

September is Pain Awareness Month, and in this podcast episode, Mindful Movement Part 2: Yoga, we’re exploring ways to keep our bodies moving to prevent arthritis pain from limiting our lives. In the last episode, we focused on mindful movement and tai chi. This time, we’re diving into mindful movement of yoga and arthritis.

When you have arthritis, you probably think, “No way can I do those poses with my joint pain. Yoga is going to make my pain worse!” That’s exactly how I felt when I was first diagnosed.

I have a favorite cartoon that demonstrates what I think about arthritis and yoga. Google it for a good laugh. It shows the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz in a yoga class. I’ll wait…. You’re welcome.

I started going to yoga classes in my early 20s and really enjoyed them. Even though that was a long time ago, I remember the sense of calm and positive energy I felt when leaving a class. As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember how I was so relaxed at the end of one class that I fell asleep! I woke up to the lights coming on and everyone leaving. Imagine that: A yoga practice that puts you in such a calm, relaxed state that you fall asleep.

But then I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 26 and I struggled with so much pain those first two years that I stopped yoga. I didn’t think I could do it at all anymore because of my wrist pain.

I often talk about how we can sometimes get “stuck” in our pain: We cannot see past the pain to solutions that may be right in front of us because we are in survival mode. We struggle to do some of the most basic things — getting out of bed, brushing our teeth, going down the stairs. Any type of movement can be daunting, so the idea of doing a warrior or mountain pose sounds even less achievable.

This episode, Mindful Movement, Part 2: Yoga, was a fantastic reminder to me about what the practice of yoga truly entails and how you can adapt yoga to suit your needs. Our guest expert, Steffany Moonaz, PhD, founded the Yoga for Arthritis program after eight years at Johns Hopkins University, where she studied the effects of yoga for people living with arthritis. She helped us remember that there’s a way to practice yoga for everyone, no matter where you are in your journey with arthritis. Whether you practice chair yoga or modify a few poses, alone at home or in a group class, the physical and mental health benefits can go a long way to improving your overall well-being. Dr. Moonaz also shared ways to make sure you can find a yoga practice that works for you and a yoga instructor that’s right for your needs.

Tune in to this episode to learn how you can start incorporating yoga practice into your daily routine today. Listen now!

We Bid Thee Farewell, Julie!

Be sure to listen through to the end of this episode, as we chat with co-host Julie Eller. This is the final episode we recorded together before she left to start a master’s program in public health. Julie has been a force to be reckoned with while on staff at the Arthritis Foundation. She helped grow our grassroots advocacy efforts and she worked tirelessly to ensure the patients’ perspective is infused in everything we do that’s health care-related. I can’t imagine anyone better to co-host this podcast with, and in the process, how much we’d get out of doing this together. I’m grateful for every dance, every smile, every blooper and all of the laughter (and sometimes tears) we shared throughout this journey together. Most of all, I am forever grateful for the lifelong friendship we share. Best wishes, my pod sister, Julie! “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

FDA Strengthens Warnings for Xeljanz, Olumiant and Rinvoq

By Jill Tyrer | Sept. 3, 2021

The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about the use of tofacitinib (Xeljanz and Xeljanz XR) as well as baricitinib (Olumiant) and upadacitinib (Rinvoq). All three belong to a medication class called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors and are used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

A large, randomized safety clinical trial compared the use of tofacitinib for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with a different type of drug, called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors. Results showed a higher risk of heart-related problems, including heart attack, stroke, as well as cancer, blood clots and death with tofacitinib than with anti-TNFs, according to the FDA’s announcement. As a result, the FDA will require a “boxed warning” on the package, its most serious warning.

But if you take one of these medications, don’t stop, doctors say. Not enough data is available to understand exactly how to interpret the announcement and who might be affected.

“There’s nothing in this that says there’s an urgent need to stop the drug, and people should absolutely not stop on their own without discussing with their rheumatologist,” says Eric Ruderman, MD, rheumatologist and professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Tofacitinib is approved to treat polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as ulcerative colitis. It is used off-label in certain cases for psoriasis and for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Baricitinib and upadacitinib are each approved to treat RA.

Safety Trial

When it approved tofacitinib, the FDA required drugmaker Pfizer to conduct the safety trial in RA patients who were taking methotrexate to find out its risks for heart issues, cancer and infections. Trial participants were over 50 years old with at least one risk factor for heart disease. Researchers looked at two doses of tofacitinib — 5 mg twice a day, which is approved for RA treatment, and 10 mg twice a day.

The FDA earlier this year warned about an increased risk of blood clots and death only with a higher dose of tofacitinib. But with the conclusion of the trial, results show the risks are also increased with the lower dose. The FDA now will limit the use of these JAK inhibitors for use only in patients who have not responded adequately to TNF inhibitors.

The trial was designed as a “non-inferiority study,” trying to show that the risk of using tofacitinib was no higher than with TNF inhibitors. “Essentially, they didn’t meet that non-inferiority, so they weren’t able to say with certainty that Xeljanz was no worse than TNF [inhibitors] for some of these safety events,” Dr. Ruderman says.

Questions Remain

Rheumatologist Jasvinder Singh, MD, MPH, professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at University of Alabama, Birmingham, and director of rheumatology research at Birmingham VA Medical Center, is waiting for more information before drawing any conclusions about who should be concerned and to what extent. The study itself was not yet available.

“I’m an epidemiologist so I like looking at the numbers. That usually helps me in understanding what the true risk is. That’s why I’m a little skeptical about making any definitive conclusions,” he says. For example, a 52-year-old woman with hypertension and a 62-year-old man who smokes, has high cholesterol and diabetes, both fit the profile of those in the study. “But those are two very different profiles,” he explains. “So when we say cardiovascular risk factors, which ones, how many, how does that differ by age and sex?”

Plus, Dr. Ruderman adds, “having RA itself is a risk factor for cardiovascular events and blood clots and cancers. Is everybody high risk? We don’t know.”

Drs. Singh and Ruderman also want to learn more about the warnings for baricitinib and upadacitinib. Safety trials have not directly compared either of those to anti-TNFs, but because they work in the same way in the body that tofacitinib does, the FDA expects the same outcomes and extended the warnings to them.

“What [the FDA] said is they don’t have any data for Rinvoq or Olumiant, but since they’re kind of the same class with a similar mechanism, they don’t know that those don’t have the same issues, so they’re going to include the same kind of language in those labels as well,” Dr. Ruderman says.

Drug Options

Tofacitinib, approved in 2012, was the first JAK inhibitor approved to treat arthritis. Baracitinib followed in 2018, and upadacitinib the following year. They are seen as an alternative to biologics and are preferred by many patients because they are in pill form rather than injection or infusion.

Still, JAK inhibitors are not as widely prescribed for arthritis as other medications, including biologics, which have been around longer and have a more robust track record. Dr. Singh estimates about 10% of eligible patients use JAK inhibitors.

Several options are available if you and your doctor decide it’s a good idea to switch. But Drs. Ruderman and Singh are unlikely to advise their patients to make any changes until they have more information, they say.

“Until I see the final recommendations from the FDA and the data from the study on which they’re based, I don’t really know what to tell them, so I’m not going to change anybody’s medicine until I have more information,” Dr. Ruderman says.

What Should You Do?

If you take one of these medications, don’t stop taking it, but be aware of the warning, and reach out to your rheumatologist for guidance.

“All medicines have side effects even when used correctly as prescribed, but in general the benefits of taking a medicine outweigh these risks,” the FDA says in the statement. “However, if you are a current or past smoker, or have had a heart attack, other heart problems, stroke or blood clots in the past, you should tell your health care professional as these may put you at higher risk for serious problems with these medicines.”

The FDA recommends that you seek emergency care if you experience any of the following, which could be a sign of a heart attack, stroke or blood clot:

    • Discomfort in the center of your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back
    • Severe tightness, pain, pressure or heaviness in your chest, throat, neck or jaw
    • Pain or discomfort in your arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
    • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
    • Breaking out in a cold sweat
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Feeling lightheaded
    • Weakness in one part or on one side of your body
    • Slurred speech
    • Drooping on one side of your mouth
    • Swelling of a leg or arm
    • Leg pain or tenderness, or red or discolored skin in the painful or swollen leg or arm

And tell your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:

    • Swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin
    • Constantly feeling tired
    • Fever
    • Night sweats
    • Persistent or worsening cough
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Hoarseness or wheezing
    • Unexplained weight loss

Updated Sept. 5 with comments from Drs. Singh and Ruderman

July 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

The Arthritis Foundation is your trusted source for arthritis-related news and COVID updates that affect people with arthritis. Here’s a wrap-up of the headlines from this past month.

The Latest in COVID-19 News & Arthritis

Delta Variant Causing States & Counties to Consider Mask Mandates
The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is causing concern across the U.S. as some states are seeing an increase in cases and hospitalizations. Some areas are considering mask mandates again, especially indoors.

Stay up to date with your local health department guidelines and check the Arthritis Foundation’s website regularly for COVID-19 & Arthritis FAQs.

Fauci: Immune Compromised May Need COVID-19 Vaccine Booster
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, says people who are immune compromised may need a COVID-19 booster vaccine. He stated that patients with transplants, undergoing cancer chemotherapy and people with autoimmune diseases who are on immunosuppressant treatments may all need a vaccine booster to increase antibodies to the virus, especially as the Delta variant continues to spread. He also said revised mask guidance by top health officials is under active consideration. Get the details.

Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease Does Not Influence Immune Response Against COVID-19
Despite suspicions that patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (AIRD) may have worse immune responses against COVID-19, research indicates that this patient population did not differ from the general population in protective antibody responses, according to a study published in Springer.

Vaccine Hesitancy for Some With Rheumatic Diseases Weighs Heavy

Despite guidance from the American College of Rheumatology, some patients with rheumatic diseases are still very concerned about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Jeffrey Curtis, MD, MPH, a University of Alabama at Birmingham rheumatologist who leads the American College of Rheumatology COVID-19 vaccine task force, says the concerns are valid. However, the benefits to vaccination outweigh the risk of having severe COVID or the potential for disease flare. Read more.

For details on COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for people with arthritis, visit the Arthritis Foundation Care & Connect hub.

Study Suggests Lasting Immunity After COVID-19, With a Big Boost from Vaccination
After an infection with SARS-CoV-2, most people — even those with mild infections — appear to have some protection against the virus for at least a year, a recent follow-up study of recovered patients published in Nature suggests. What’s more, this and other research demonstrates that vaccinating these individuals substantially enhances their immune response and confers strong resistance against variants of concern, including the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant. Read the study.

In Other Arthritis News

FDA & Arthritis Foundation Make OA Priority Discussion

The Arthritis Foundation partnered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to host a workshop recently on developing new treatments with long-term benefits for OA. Learn more about what’s being done to tackle treatments for OA.

Taking a Step Toward Discovering the Cause of Joint Disease
A new study finds switches near GDF5 gene linked to knee osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia. This new information could lay the groundwork for targeted screenings and treatments. Read more.

AbbVie, Lilly Face Fresh Delays in FDA Approval for Expanded Use of Arthritis Drugs

JAK (janus kinases) inhibitors have come under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s scrutiny, after preliminary results from a safety trial of Pfizer’s JAK inhibitor drug earlier this year showed an increased risk of serious heart problems and cancer in patients. Learn more.

Association Between Psoriasis and RA
Mounting evidence suggesting an association between psoriasis and an increased risk of RA has underscored the need for prospective studies to enhance our understanding of the disease course and optimal treatments in patients who have both diseases. Read more.

Biologic Treatments Could Mitigate Psoriatic Arthritis Risk
A new study finds that treatment with biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS) for people with psoriasis may lower the incidence of developing psoriatic arthritis later. Learn more.

Low-Dose Steroid Use in RA May Still Cause Risk for Vertebral Fractures

A new study reports that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) being treated with low-dose glucocorticoids are still at risk for increased vertebral fractures. Read the report.

Learn more about corticosteroids and arthritis.

3D-printed Knee Implants Could Cut Surgery Times and Improve Arthritis Treatment
Known as Tailored Osteotomy for Knee Alignment (TOKA), this treatment improves the operative procedure and fit of high-tibial osteotomy (HTO) plates used to realign a patient’s knee, making them more stable, comfortable and better able to bear weight than existing generic plates. Learn more about the technique and how it also simplifies HTO surgery, making operations quicker and therefore safer.


What chronic pain takes away, Vim gives back!

To kick off Arthritis Awareness Month in May, the Arthritis Foundation launched our new Vim app — a unique, personalized tool to help people with arthritis easily find resources they need to manage their pain. The app also helps keep track of conditions and treatments, set and achieve goals, and connect with others for tips and encouragement.

The app stems from input received from 40,000 survey respondents in the Foundation’s ongoing Live Yes! INSIGHTS study, which is summarized in our How It Hurts report. As Vim was being developed, we sought extensive feedback along the way — from arthritis patients, health care professionals and other experts in pain management.

The app helps users set SMART goals based on their own situations and needs; goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. Users can also get information and ideas on how to best manage chronic pain through a deep library of expert content in seven categories. Maybe best of all, Vim fosters a spirit of community with common experiences, bringing people together who listen and inspire each other to help make managing pain easier.

Fast-rising NASCAR driver Natalie Decker, who is an Arthritis Foundation Champion Ambassador — she grew up with arthritis and continues to battle its challenges — says Vim has helped her get into a meditation routine that puts her mind at ease, plus set physical goals like regular stretching exercises. She says: “I like that you can cheer on other people. That’s cool.”

Vim is made possible by Arthritis Foundation sponsors who believe it’s a great solution to help people with arthritis find their Yes.

A representative of Vim Inaugural Sponsor TYLENOL says:

“TYLENOL® is a proud partner of the Arthritis Foundation and an Inaugural Sponsor of the Foundation’s three-year plan to conquer pain. We have chosen to support Vim and the pain initiative because we believe in the power of encouragement and education as key tools in helping those who suffer from arthritis pain to lead fuller lives.”

A spokesperson for Flexion Therapeutics, another Vim Inaugural Sponsor, adds:

“As a company committed to bettering the lives of patients confronting painful osteoarthritis, Flexion Therapeutics is honored to support the Arthritis Foundation’s Vim app, which is a powerful tool aimed at helping patients with arthritis, including osteoarthritis, take both small and big steps in managing the chronic joint pain that debilitates so many with this disease.”

Joe Tolman, founder of HurtSkurt, Vim Participating Sponsor, says:

“Becoming a Partner with the Arthritis Foundation and being part of the launch of the pain initiative and Vim app was an absolute no-brainer for us. The goal of HurtSkurt® is to help people achieve pain relief in the most efficient way, and the goal of the Vim app is to help people suffering with arthritis manage their everyday pain. If we can help even one person per day to have a better day because our products, then we are doing something special.  We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this project.”

Get started with Vim today. And see for yourself how much it can help give you back what chronic pain takes away.

June 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

June has been a busy month for arthritis-related news. Here’s a wrap-up of the headlines from this past month.

Arthritis Foundation Releases Statement as Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit that challenged the Affordable Care Act. The Arthritis Foundation issued a statement along with a letter of support from 33 other patient advocacy organizations. Read the statement.

Methotrexate Impairs COVID Vaccine Response
One-third of patients with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases being treated with methotrexate showed attenuated responses to the COVID-19 vaccine, researchers reported. Learn more.

The Complex Situation for the Immunocompromised and COVID-19 Vaccines
Studies suggest the available shots don’t provide enough protection, leaving more than 9 million Americans with compromised immune systems stuck in a waiting game. Find out more.

Testing Third Doses of COVID Vaccine in Immunocompromised Patients
New study offers hope for protecting this vulnerable population from COVID-19. Learn more about this study.

Get expert guidance on vaccine efficacy for people with compromised immune systems or on certain arthritis medications. Read more.

Diet May Impact COVID-19 Severity
Plant-based and/or fish diets may help lessen the severity of COVID-19 infection, according to a study published online June 7 in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health. Find out more about the study.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet, like the Mediterranean diet, may help reduce body-wide inflammation. Find out more.

New ACR Guidelines for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments Finalized
The American College of Rheumatology published its new 2020 guidelines for rheumatoid arthritis treatments, the first update since 2015. Read the new guidelines.

Get an expert breakdown of what the new ACR guidelines mean for patients with RA. Learn more.

Sleep Deprivation Linked With Cardiovascular Risk in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis
Patients with early rheumatoid arthritis have short sleep duration at night that is associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors, according to study findings published in ACR Open Rheumatology. Learn more.

Osteoarthritis Associated With Elevated Risk of Parkinson Disease
Researchers hypothesized that individuals with OA might be at higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. This is based on literature reporting that the peripheral inflammation associated with OA may cause neuroinflammation in the brain, leading to the neurodegeneration associated with Parkinson’s. Read more.

Combination Immunomodulatory Therapies for Patients With Psoriatic Arthritis?
An article in Arthritis & Rheumatology from psoriatic arthritis erudites, Drs. Scher, Ogdie, Merola and Ritchlin, is bringing attention to the discussion about combination therapy in the complex field of seronegative spondyloarthropathies — specifically psoriatic arthritis. Read more.


May 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

May has been a busy month for arthritis-related news and COVID updates that affect people with arthritis. Here’s a wrap-up of the headlines from this past month.

Taking Action For Better Access

Biologic drugs and therapies can slow the progression of arthritis and allow patients to improve quality of life but, too often, those therapies are rendered useless when insurance plans strip physicians of the ability to prescribe the most appropriate treatment without first forcing patients to try the therapies preferred by the insurance companies – a process known as “step therapy.”

In a new op-ed for The Hill, American College of Rheumatology President Dr. David Karp and Arthritis Foundation President & CEO Ann Palmer are urging Congress to address this issue by passing the Safe Step Act.

You can take action now by contacting your member of congress and asking them to support the Safe Step Act.

 Millions of Immunocompromised Americans May Not Be Fully Protected by Coronavirus Vaccines

Early research shows that 15-80% of people with certain medical conditions are generating few antibodies after receiving coronavirus vaccines. Read more.

Learn what precautions people with certain forms or arthritis or on certain medications should take once vaccinated. View the slideshow.

NIH to Study How COVID-19 Vaccines Work in People With Suppressed Immune Systems

After research suggested they develop fewer antibodies from coronavirus vaccines, the National Institutes of Health has launched a study to understand how people with immune disorders respond to COVID-19 vaccines. Find out more about the study.

ACR Updates COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance for Managing Patients With Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases

Recently, guidance was updated to include new recommendations regarding mycophenolate, methotrexate, acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug timing considerations for patients with rheumatic diseases. Learn more.

FDA, CDC Lift Suspension of Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration lifted a 10-day pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but will issue a fact sheet to medical providers warning them of the potential for extremely rare but serious blood clots. Read more.

Majority of Parents Will Wait on Kids’ COVID Vaccine

Three-quarters of parents don’t plan to vaccinate their kids against COVID-19 when the FDA gives the go-ahead for younger children, according to a new survey of 1,258 parents. Many said they would wait a few months, but a full third said they don’t plan to vaccinate their kids at all. Find out more.

Got vaccine questions? Infectious disease and vaccine expert, Robert L. Murphy, MD, breaks down the severe risks of COVID-19 vaccines for people with arthritis and explains how to evaluate the true risk for yourself. Watch the Q&A.

Patients With Rheumatic Diseases Are More Likely to Avoid Health Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

Patients with certain forms of arthritis were more likely to avoid office visits and laboratory testing and discontinue DMARDs without physician indication during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in The Journal of Rheumatology. Learn more.

Biologic Treatment Spacing Feasible for Some Rheumatic Disease Patients

Patients with rheumatic diseases who have stable disease remission or low disease activity might be able to reduce their biologic (b)DMARD treatment without disease flare by spacing their doses, BIOPURE findings show. Find out more.

Time Trends in Opioid Use Disorder Hospitalizations

A new study evaluates opioid use disorder–related hospitalizations and associated health care utilization outcomes in people with five common musculoskeletal diseases. Read the study’s findings.

Time to Screen for Older Patients’ Cannabis Use?

Cannabis use more than doubled over the past decade among Americans 50 and over, with nearly one in 10 now reporting usage over the past year, an analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found. Read more. Read more.

Medical cannabis for arthritis pain relief is growing in popularity. Learn how to speak with your doctor about the benefits of medical marijuana. Get expert tips for speaking with your health care provider.

Telemedicine Is a Tool — Not a Replacement for a Doctor’s Touch

The pandemic has demonstrated that virtual medicine is great for many simple visits. But many of the new types of telemedicine being promoted by start-ups more clearly benefit providers’ and investors’ pockets, rather than yielding more convenient, high-quality and cost-effective medicine for patients. Find out more.

Clinicians ‘Should Be Cognizant of’ Racial, Cultural Disparities During RA Management

Clinicians should be aware of racial and cultural differences in the perception of health care and tailor their approach accordingly, and reduce potential health care disparities, noted a speaker at the 2021 Interdisciplinary Autoimmune Summit. Learn more.

Boosting the Presence of Darker Skin in Rheumatology Education

Studies are flagging racial and ethnic disparities in rheumatology training materials, pointing to a need to boost representation of darker skin tones and better educate physicians in evaluating this cohort. Not enough is known about these disparities in rheumatology education, despite the fact that minorities make up 40% of the population in the United States. Read more.

Arthritis uniquely affects marginalized segments of society. Their experiences are detailed in How It Hurts — the latest findings from the nearly 40,000 responses to the INSIGHTS survey. Read How It Hurts.

3D Biomaterial Used as ‘Sponge’ for Stem Cell Therapy to Reverse Arthritis

A new study of a 3D biomaterial scaffold design is showing promise, relieving pain and reversing arthritis in mice knee joints. The design slowly releases stem cells to ensure that implanted stem cells stick around. Read more about this study.

Improved Understanding of Damaging Immune Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Researchers within the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University have made a breakthrough in understanding the role played by high-risk immune genes associated with the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Study results suggest that there may be an immune signature of RA development, providing a potential avenue for diagnostic development or a window of opportunity for therapeutic development. Learn more.

Shared Decision Making, Clinical Judgment Take Priority Where OA Guidelines Diverge

Shared decision making and clinical judgment are key to effectively managing osteoarthritis (OA) patients, especially when sets of OA guidelines disagree on the best course of action, noted a speaker at the American College of Rheumatology State-of-the-Art Clinical Symposium. Read more.

Stable, Supportive Shoes Reduce Walking Pain in Severe Knee OA

Wearing stable, supportive footwear reduces knee pain to a significantly greater extent than what’s felt with flat, flexible shoes in patients with severe knee osteoarthritis, according to results of a randomized, controlled trial presented at the OARSI 2021 World Congress. Learn more.

Products that are easy to use make life less painful for everyone. Find arthritis-friendly products that have earned the Arthritis Foundation Ease of Use seal and take the pain out of everyday chores. Search Ease of Use products.