Feature Article

Treatment of established rheumatoid arthritis

Feature Article

Treatment of established rheumatoid arthritis

Peter Cheung, Lyn March

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Abstract

Maintaining minimum clinical and laboratory disease activity is the main objective of management in patients with established rheumatoid arthritis. Optimising treatment while monitoring for side effects, addressing secondary complications and maintaining patients’ quality of life are other important aspects.

Key Points

  • The primary objective of management in patients with established rheumatoid arthritis is to maintain minimum clinical and laboratory disease activity.
  • Measurement of disease activity is used to guide adjustments in therapy with the goal to attain remission.
  • In patients with established rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to optimise treatment while monitoring for side effects, address secondary complications of rheumatoid arthritis and maintain patients’ quality of life and participation in work, relationships, family and social situations.
  • A multidisciplinary approach is important, ideally with drug and disease monitoring by GPs and physicians, and the involvement of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other health professionals.
  • With the current available treatment options and better understanding of monitoring, most patients will be able to lead a normal life, free of disease activity.