Rheumatoid Arthritis: The journey from ‘no treatment’ to ‘drug free remission’

November 15, 2012

Not bothered about me crying in pain,
That Physician with great name & fame,
Gave the disease he cannot cure,
A name!

Is this what Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment all about?
Are Rheumatologists just giving name to a disease for which they do not have any treatment & cure?
Mind you, these lines were penned almost 150 years back.

We have come a long way since then.
In the early years, symptomatic therapy (pain control & patient’s feeling of well being) was all that was available. We had aspirin & steroids. Slowly multiple other anti inflammatory meds became available; but the treatment concept remained the same.

Slowly, the destructive potential of rheumatoid arthritis was realised. This stimulated the search for means to modify the disease course. This is when DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic drugs) came into the picture. Armed with evidence, Rheumatologist shifted gears from the ‘conservative wait & watch’ approach to the much more aggressive ‘early diagnosis, early aggressive targeted treatment’. This literally translated into ‘will not tolerate any harm’ approach. Biologics came in handy for Rheumatologists to achieve this goal.

The change in mindset coupled with effective medicines enabled us to aim for remission in a disease that was thought to be the one without effective treatment.  Recent studies have already shown that even ‘drug free remission’ is possible.

The existence of ‘drug free remission’ was discussed at length at this year’s American College of Rheumatology Conference. Doubts about its real world definition, longetivity, recurrence of RA definitely do exist.

Nevertheless, we have come a long way; from ‘no effective treatment’ to ‘drug free remission’ Collateral damage in the form of cardiovascular events, osteoporosis is also well recognised & prevention strategies are getting refined. Patients be rest assured that better things are in store for them.

Few years from now & you may find me tweeting & blogging about sustained drug free remission. All the very best & wish everyone remission……

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: