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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks body tissues. It primarily affects joints but it can also cause inflammation of organs such as the lungs, eyes, skin, and heart. Patients may experience periods of increased symptoms which alternate with periods of fewer or no symptoms1. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterised by a painful swelling of the joints which can eventually result in the erosion of bones and joint deformity1.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects mainly women (75% of patients)2. The disease can start at any age but mostly begins between the ages of 30 and 50. An estimated 1 to 3% of women develop rheumatoid arthritis during their lifetime2.
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis but medications, especially when given in early stages, can stop pain and swelling and prevent joint damage2. The first type of medication often given to newly diagnosed patients belongs to a class called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which can relieve patients from symptoms and slow down the progression of the joint damage. Among these are Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. People with more aggressive forms of the disease may benefit from medications called biologic response modifiers or biologic agents. These act by blocking the immune response that leads to inflammation and joint/tissue damage2.
The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis doesn't stop with medication. Proper care is best provided by teams of providers, including rheumatologists, primary care physicians, and physical and occupational therapists2.
For a list of medicines that have been approved for rheumatoid arthritis, please see below. If a medicine has been approved by at least one reputable medical authority in the world but it is not available in your country, you may be able to purchase it via our service; we may be able to source and deliver it to you if you can provide a prescription from your doctor.
Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org. Cited on 01/03/2018.
American College of Rheumatology, https://www.rheumatology.org. Cited on 01/03/2018.