Patients with rheumatoid arthritis who receive a more intensive form of therapy are more likely to experience a remission of their disease, finds a new study.
For the study researchers randomly assigned 111 patients with similar levels of disease to one of two groups. One group received monthly treatment with oral drugs to fight rheumatoid arthritis, along with steroid injections. The other group received standard care, which consisted of treatment every three months in an outpatient clinic. Patients on the more intense therapy also underwent monthly assessments of their disease to help doctors plan their treatment.
After 18 months, 82 percent of the patients in the intensive-treatment group had achieved a good response to therapy, compared to 44 percent in the routine-treatment group. Most significantly, 65 percent of intensive-therapy patients were in remission by the follow up vs. just 16 percent of those in the group who received routine care.
Researchers say this finding suggests long-term savings may also result if patients receiving more intense therapy are able to avoid joint replacement surgery, the need for institutional care, or disabilities that cause them to stop working.