March 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

March 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.

ACR Updates COVID Vaccine Clinical Guidance
Updated COVID vaccine guidelines for patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases were recently released by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). These new guidelines address best practices for both adult and pediatric patients.

Updated ACR Adult Guidelines
Updated ACR Pediatric Guidelines

Safety of mRNA Vaccines in Patients With Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases
Johns Hopkins University, with support from the Arthritis Foundation, has released initial findings on a new study about vaccine safety in patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases on immunomodulatory therapy. The study represents the first available data on the safety and reactogenicity of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in this dedicated population. Learn more about the findings from this study.

Find out more about COVID and rheumatic disease by viewing our Coronavirus & Arthritis webinar.

What Does the CDC’s New Guidance for People Who Have Been Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Mean?
The  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an interim set of recommendations for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This guidance addresses private household settings and does not apply to public gatherings or in the workplace. Learn more about guidelines for the fully vaccinated.

Messenger RNA Vaccines May Reduce Infection from Asymptomatic COVID-19 Carriers
Ten days after receiving a second dose of a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine for COVID-19, patients without COVID symptoms are far less likely to test positive and unknowingly spread the virus, compared to patients who have not been vaccinated, according to new research. Read more.

Are Rheumatic Patients at Higher Risk of COVID Death?
Analysis of data from an international registry found some patients with rheumatic diseases who developed COVID-19 were at an increased likelihood of death. Risk factors were similar to those seen in the general population, but additional factors were specific to the patient’s underlying disease and treatment. Learn more about COVID and rheumatic patients.

NIH Launches New Research on COVID-19 in Children
The CARING for Children with COVID program will study why some children face greater risks for contracting COVID-19, why symptoms vary among children and how to identify children who have higher risks for the life-threatening multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. Read more about COVID in children.

Permanent Disability Claims for RA May Rise in Years Following COVID-19 Crisis
The economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to a rise in permanent disability claims for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is based on a recent study that found rates of disability benefit enrollment spiked during periods of economic recessions. Learn more about this study.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Meds May Help Fight Severe COVID-19
In a recent study, arthritis drugs tocilizumab (Actemra) and sarilumab (Kevzara) were shown to reduce death among critically ill COVID-19 patients. The drugs are immune modulators called IL-6 receptor antagonists and have also shortened patients’ hospital stays significantly. Read more.

Get the latest updates on how COVID impacts people with arthritis.

PsA Patients Fare Better on Taltz
An international randomized trial found that significantly more psoriatic arthritis (PsA) patients relapsed, and more quickly, after withdrawal from ixekizumab (Taltz). Patients who achieved minimal disease activity on the medication and continued the drug fared better than patients who withdrew from treatment. Read more about the study.

Depression Could Interfere With PsA Improvement
The presence of depression or anxiety among patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) was associated with a diminished likelihood of achieving a state of minimal disease activity, regardless of the method used to diagnose depression or anxiety, researchers reported. Find out more about this study.

Learn when to seek treatment and about the care options available when you are experiencing anxiety or depression with your arthritis.

NSAIDs May Accelerate Knee OA
A recent study found that consistent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may accelerate osteoarthritis (OA) in the knee. Researchers looked at data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative and found that knee OA patients who used NSAIDs had more indications of OA progression than did knee OA patients who were taking other kinds of drugs. Read more about the link between knee OA and NSAIDs.

Opioid-Related Costs Estimated at $14 Billion for Knee OA
The total lifetime opioid-related costs generated by symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA) in the United States are $14 billion. The study, published in Arthritis Care & Research, suggests lost productivity, diversion and criminal justice costs account for half of the staggering price tag. Learn more.

Digital Treatment of Knee OA May Improve Pain, Function vs Self-Managed Care
Digital treatment of knee osteoarthritis (OA) may improve pain and function compared with routine self-managed usual care. Read more about this new study.

Understanding the benefits as well as the side effects of arthritis treatments is important. Learn how to choose the right medication.

Liver Disease Risk Differs Between Patients Using Methotrexate
A large population-based study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology says patients taking methotrexate for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis (PsA) were at a higher risk of developing liver disease than were patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on methotrexate. Learn more about this study.

New Way to Halt Excessive Inflammation
Researchers have discovered a new way to halt excessive inflammation. Scientists were able to achieve this by regulating a type of white blood cell that is critical for our immune system. Learn more about this research.

On Hand Function Declines in RA and PsA
Hand function in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) declined similarly over time, according to a recent study. Surprisingly, people with psoriasis lost comparable levels of function. View the study results.

Aerobic Exercise in Chronic Low Back Pain May Provide Similar Relief to Low-Dose Morphine
Engaging in regular aerobic exercise may provide limited, direct effects on morphine analgesic responses. According to research results published in Pain, exercise training can provide pain relief similar to that observed with a low dose of intravenous morphine. Read more about the link between exercise and pain relief.

Learn how to exercise with arthritis. Get help finding your preferred joint-friendly exercise so you can get moving, relieve pain and make your joints more flexible.

FDA Expands Simponi Aria Labeling to Include Fatigue in RA, PsA
The FDA has approved a label update for Janssen’s golimumab (Simponi Aria) to include language that treatment alongside methotrexate improves fatigue in patients with active psoriatic arthritis and moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis. This will be the first TNF inhibitor approved to include fatigue improvement in its labeling. Read more about the new labeling.



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