Extended Literature Review on Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Latest Treatments

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Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a common disease which is an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis commonly in adults. This chronic disease causes severe inflammation to the joints of the body. Once the tissues at the joints get inflamed, deformity occurs and this is by weakening joint ligaments and eroding the bone. An autoimmune disease occurs whenever the tissues of the body are attacked by mistake by the immune system of the same body. Patients with this disease have in their blood stream immune cells and also antibodies which defend the body by targeting at the bodys tissues. Hence inflammation occurs as a result. Injury can be caused to other body organs too and this is the reason as to why the disease is at times referred to as the systematic illness or the rheumatoid disease. However, modern treatments for controlling this illness have come up. The current methods of treating RA have risks and also various benefits towards the patient.

Many patients who suffer from RA have a challenge on how to treat the disease. Biologic Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) are used to treat the disease and have shown a decrease in inflammation. Biologic DMARDs have some benefits towards the patient and has at least revolutionized the process of treatment of RA (Michelle and David, 2011). They are recommended especially to patients who have failed by the use of combined or single conventional DMARD. Biologic DMARDs combined with other doses have a more rapid effect compared to the non-biologic DMARDs. The drugs have a similar effectiveness as monotherapy. However, more benefit occurs for a clinical response. Methotrexate which is a DMARD is combined to help in the prevention towards the progression of radiographic. The daily injection of methotrexate in conjunction with anakinra which is an anti-TNF assist the patient of RA to improve and also helps in the radiographic progression. Anakinra has important benefits for inflammatory syndromes which are rare systematic.

The modern biologic DMARDs also have a great improvement in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis for many patients. Biologic DMARDs is engineered genetically and they act similarly just as the natural proteins in the immune system of the body. They are important for they have very few side effects compared to the previous DMARDs. Biologics DMARDs, when combined with other drugs, becomes effective in treating RA. This new treatment has various ways to be administered into the body. A pill can be taken via mouth or an injection which can be injected directly into the vein or even under the skin.

However, these biologic DMARDs have an effect in suppressing the bodys immune system. In addition, taking methotrexate to treat RA increases bacterial infections especially bringing about soft-tissue and pneumonia infections. Biologic DMARDs such as anti-TNF medication have a risk which is so significant to tuberculosis reactivation (Michelle and David, 2011). This has brought an awareness to create exposure for screening TB and treat any latent TB before administering anti-TNF to patients.

Another risk that occurs while treating RA with biologic DMARDs is that they increase the risk of contracting viral infections. Such virus includes Epstein-Barr virus, the varicella-zoster virus, and the cytomegalovirus. Moreover, Hepatitis B and also C can be reactivated as a result. In order to prevent such diseases, vaccination against the diseases or proper screening before any treatment is recommended.

Steroids is another new treatment method of RA. Corticosteroid medications, for example, the prednisone, help the patient to have reduced pain and also the inflammation hence, gradual joint damage. However, this kind of treatment poses serious side effects to the user. Such effects can be diabetes, bones may become thin and also gaining weight. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also drugs which are used to treat RA but can cause heart problems, kidney damage, ears ringing and also the liver damage. This can be great damage as a result of using the drugs only to relieve pain and inflammation. The risk is too high for the patient to use the NSAIDs.

Surgery is another new treatment method for rheumatoid arthritis. According to Dale,

(2016), it is an important method to treat RA to patients who have severe damage that is permanent which may hinder mobility or even the independence of a patient. The joint surgery replacement can prevent pain and help the joints to function as earlier. The damaged joints are replaced with plastic and metal parts when the joint is totally being replaced and this can help restore the ability to use the joint. A surgery termed as joint fusion can assist the patient with RA when replacing a joint is not needed hence is used to realign the affected joint and this relieves pain.

Other natural medication alternatives are recommended although can have great benefits when advised by the doctor before using them. Such treatments include the use of fish oil supplements to reduce RA stiffness and also the pain (Mayoclinic, 2016). The benefit is that the side effects are not bad as those of the biologic DMARDs or the NSAIDs. Exercising gently through stretching together with breathing deeply can aid to slow the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

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References

Advances in the Medical Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135413/

Treatment - Rheumatoid arthritis - Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20197400

Biologic Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/understanding-biologic-treatments-for-ra#Overview1

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