Date Published: 30 October 2005

Research indicates the best treatment strategy for early rheumatoid arthritis

Health News from the United States of America (USA)

Health News from the USA

Research published in the November 2005 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism* might offer hope to the more than two million Americans suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, more than 75% of whom are women.

A study conducted by researchers in the Netherlands has helped to provide information about the best treatment strategy for a patient newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

The study compared the four most commonly prescribed treatment strategies for early rheumatoid arthritis. It found that all four treatments resulted in measurable improvements in patients. However, patients who received initial combination therapy had less disease progression and joint damage than those patients who received disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) alone or step-up combination therapy.

"The study's main message for patients is that rheumatoid arthritis needs to be diagnosed early and treated early and actively, and with medications capable of stopping joint damage. This study is supportive of early combination therapy, but more research is still needed,"
said Theodore R. Fields, MD, FACP, clinical director of the Gosden-Robinson Early Arthritis Center (EAC) at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) and Joseph A. Markenson, MD, director of rheumatoid arthritis clinical trials at HSS, in a joint statement.

* Online access at

Source: Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, USA

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