Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. To raise awareness about this debilitating condition, Rheumatoid Awareness Day is celebrated every year to help educate the public about RA and its impact on the lives of those living with the disease.
RA is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints and other organs. It is a systemic disease, which means it can affect the entire body, including the heart, lungs, and eyes. RA can cause severe joint pain, stiffness, and loss of function, making it difficult for people to perform even the simplest of tasks.
The symptoms of RA can be debilitating and affect a person’s quality of life. It can cause fatigue, loss of appetite, and depression. RA can also lead to joint damage and disability if left untreated.
There are three general classes of drugs commonly used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), according to John Hopkins Arthritis Center.1
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing RA. Treatment options include medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Medications, such as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), can slow the progression of the disease and prevent joint damage.
DMARDs are often administered via injection or infusion, like tumor necrosis factor inhibitors and B cell depleting agents, and are available and administered at any of Palmetto Infusion’s 34+ clinics in the southeast.
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors work by suppressing the immune system by blocking the activity of TNF, which is a substance in the body that can cause inflammation and lead to immune-system diseases, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.2 TNF is a natural part of the body’s immune system and work to combat tumor cells, bacteria, and viruses. Unfortunately, in people who have autoimmune diseases, researchers have found there is an inappropriate or excessive activation of TNF in the body.3
Another common infusion treatment of RA is B cell depleting agents—originally developed to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The treatment works by causing a rapid and sustained depletion of circulation B cells. These B cells are important inflammatory cells, which directly interact with T-cells and others. Studies have shown by decreasing B cells, it reduces signs and symptoms of RA and slows radiographic progression.1
It is important to remember that RA is not just a physical disease, it also has a significant impact on mental health and emotional well-being. The chronic nature of the disease and the limitations it imposes on daily life can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. Support groups can be a great resource for people living with RA, providing an opportunity to connect with others who understand the challenges of the disease, such as groups like Uplift Encouragement.
Uplift Encouragement Group provides a supportive community for individuals with chronic illnesses/disabilities and chronic pain and opportunities to meet and encourage others with chronic illnesses/disabilities and chronic pain. If you would like more information on this free resource, please visit Uplift Encouragement or reach out to Founder Sheri Force at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803.318.4103.
- Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: https://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/arthritis-info/rheumatoid-arthritis/ra-treatment/#tnf
- FDA: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/information-tumor-necrosis-factor-tnf-blockers-marketed-remicade-enbrel-humira-cimzia-and-simponi#:~:text=TNF%20blockers%20suppress%20the%20immune,psoriatic%20arthritis%20and%20plaque%20psoriasis.
- National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33800290/#:~:text=Tumor%20necrosis%20factor%20alpha%20(TNF%2D%CE%B1)%20was%20initially%20recognized,which%20initiate%20signal%20transduction%20pathways.