Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is currently incurable, yap there is still no cure for this systemic inflammatory joint disease. But this doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do to live with it when first diagnosed. Appropriate steps are required to prevent it from getting worse and make you live as active a life as possible.
One of hot topics in discussing about RA is whether the aggressive treatment in the first two years has an effect in providing a better prognosis.
This issue may be unclear yet and still debatable, but most experts believe that first 2 years after the symptom onset is the key for the window of opportunity to control the disease and reduce the risk of its complications! On the other hand, if the disease is poorly-controlled or left untreated in these periods, joint erosion tends to occur and the disease is more difficult to treat.
It seems that the first 2 years are crucial periods for RA treatment. But there is no clearly answer whether aggressive treatment in these periods does have an effect for the outlook of the disease!
Some experts don’t agree that the treatment is only focused on two-year mark. Since there is still no cure, people with this chronic arthritis condition should have a comprehensive treatment plan in long term, not only within intervals of one or two years!
The idea of treating it as early as possible was introduced since in 1989. But the aggressive treatment such as the use of biologic agents and DMARDs was not yet the option.
And early aggressive treatment is particularly essential in sufferers with RA who also have abnormal indicators such as anti-CCP antibody, rheumatoid factor, or subcutaneous nodules. Because those with these indicators are more likely to develop severe form of the disease!
There is also a theory that taking aggressive treatment at very early stage of the disease might help prevent the development of destructive disease. Unfortunately, this issue is still debatable, too.
Currently, there is no answer to prevent the occurrence of RA! The goal of the treatment is also not intended to cure it – but to control the disease, prevent it from getting worse, reduce the risk of its complications, and improve the quality of life of patient.
However, having this disease is not the end of everything. With appropriate treatments, many sufferers are still able to have a normal live, though there may be some adjustments to cope with the disease.
The systemic condition of the disease is the major concern. Experts blame the abnormality immune system in RA as the key of why the disease can increase the risk of other diseases or complications that have nothing to do with the joint such as heart diseases & metabolic syndrome, eye problems, or lung diseases.
These complications (especially for cardiovascular diseases) play a key role of why people with RA are also at high risk of having premature death. See more this issue in this post!
RA is chronic condition, which means it can come and go! And each flare poses the risk of joint damage. More flares you have means that your RA is not controlled as well. Out of control of RA can increase the risk of developing its complications.
So, it is so important for sufferers to make the disease under control. The good news, the new treatments can be effective enough to control RA, even some could make it go into remission.
When first diagnosed, treating RA as early as possible before the damage occurs can increase the chance of making the disease go into remission!
If you take the appropriate treatments within 2 years after the symptom onset, you may have about 50 % chance of getting remission. Today, the use of DMARDs and biologic agents are the main treatments to stop the disease getting worse and lower the risk of further problems.