People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are likely to have a much better quality of life today than they did two decades ago. Researchers in the Netherlands observed more than 1,100 patients diagnosed with RA between 1990 and 2011. They attribute the gains to earlier diagnosis, more aggressive medications and a greater emphasis on overall well-being. Their findings were published in Arthritis Care & Research in 2014.
Lead author Cecile Overman, a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, says she and her colleagues wanted to determine if improved treatments over the last 20 years led to better physical and psychological health for RA patients. Continue reading Outlook Brighter For People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
With the advent of early, aggressive treatment and more effective drugs, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients are facing joint surgery much less than they were 20 years ago.
When rheumatologist Erdal Diri started working at Trinity Health Center in Minot, N.D., more than a decade ago, he saw many RA patients referred to him by surgeons frustrated by the levels of joint inflammation they saw. Better inflammation-fighting drugs and a new approach to treating RA more aggressively have changed that, he says. From an average of 30 to 40 RA patients per year being sent for surgery at this rural hospital, Dr. Diri now sends only 4 or 5.
Research Backs a Decline in RA Joint Surgeries
A study conducted by rheumatologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and published in Journal of Rheumatology in March 2012, tracked surgeries among 813 RA patients from 1980 to 2007. The researchers, led by Eric L. Matteson, MD, found that the incidence of any joint surgery within 10 years of diagnosis went from 27.3% in the 1980 to 1994 period, to 19.5% in the 1995 to 2007 period.
Continue reading Early Control of RA Inflammation Prevents Joint Surgery
Slow-healing wounds, including leg and foot ulcers, are a known complication of several autoimmune inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus and scleroderma. For many people, these wounds can take months or even years to heal.
“People with RA develop wounds for many reasons,” says Eric Matteson, MD, chairman of rheumatology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “One is that they may have low-grade vasculitis – inflammation affecting the small blood vessels in the skin. When the wound is related to the underlying systemic inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, not having that inflammation under control makes it much more difficult to achieve good wound healing.”
Continue reading Slow-Healing Wounds Common in Rheumatoid Arthritis
Have a cough that won’t quit? Been short of breath lately? It could be a nasty cold or flu virus, or the problem could be related to your rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA attacks the joints, but it doesn’t always stop there. It can affect other organs, including the lungs. In fact, some 20 to 30 percent of RA patients will eventually develop RA-related lung disease. Doctors may classify a lung problem as restrictive lung disease (such as interstitial lung disease) or obstructive lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma). Both result in shortness of breath.
Continue reading Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lung Problems
A link between stress and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is commonly acknowledged. However, scientists continue to explore the connection between the nervous and immune systems and the effect on RA onset and progression. People with RA commonly report experiencing physical or emotional stress when first diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder like RA. However in a 2010 editorial in Arthritis Research & Therapy, Daniel Clauw, MD, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan (who has expertise in rheumatology and pain), commented on a review of 16 studies on the stress-arthritis link. In his editorial, Dr. Clauw highlighted the verified link in animal models and the difficulty in proving a similar linear relationship in humans.
Continue reading Can Managing Stress Keep RA Symptoms in Check?
As you know, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the joints, but a subset of people with RA say
that it can also take a toll on a very important organ: the brain. They describe feeling forgetful, unable to concentrate and gripped by the “blahs.” In other words, they say that rheumatoid arthritis gives them an unshakable case of brain fog.
Brain fog isn’t a medical term, but doctors have long recognized that patients with certain physical conditions (such as lupus and multiple sclerosis) can experience cognitive dysfunction, or the diminished ability to think, learn, remember and perform other mental tasks. Not all doctors who treat rheumatoid arthritis are convinced that brain fog represents an important concern for their patients. Yet recent research offers clues that diseases featuring chronically elevated inflammation, such as RA, may hinder healthy brain performance.
“I see it all the time,” says Marian Rissenberg, PhD, a neuropsychologist who works with patients coping with cognitive problems at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York. “These people are not malingerers.”
Continue reading Why Do Some People With Rheumatoid Arthritis Experience “Brain Fog”?