In contrast to articles and books written about rheumatoid arthritis (RA) two or more decades ago that largely focused on 'coping' with the disease, there have been significant developments in the treatment of RA over the past 10 years. Patients can now be diagnosed and treated and expect to live functional lives, with less likelihood of experiencing the associated joint damage and disability. An important goal of RA therapy has shifted to initiate treatment early and aggressively, with frequent assessment and a target to achieve remission as quickly as possible. This 'treat-to-target' concept has been endorsed to maximise long-term health-related quality of life through control of symptoms, prevention of structural damage, normalisation of function and social participation. This article will look at therapies and strategies for the treatment of RA. It will also discuss a treatment algorithm for rheumatoid arthritis tailored to the individual patient's disease activity status.
"Overtime, RA can lead to long-term cartilage and bone destruction, causing immense pain and joint stiffness. It can also cause inflammation in areas other than the joints, such as the lungs or pericardium, resulting in extra-articular manifestations (Palmer & El Miedany 2013). Despite advances in the medical field, the pathophysiology of RA remains poorly understood, its exact trigger unknown, and there is no known cure for RA. "
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