Sunday, 9 November 2014

Where's the Good News?

In many people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), other autoimmune diseases like Sjogren's Syndrome can develop. I noticed an abstract of a paper that was published last month in Rheumatology. It was titled "Clinical characteristics of RA patients with secondary SS and association with joint damage"

As you might guess from the post title, the conclusion was that patients with RA who also developed Sjogren's had worse joint damage suggesting that secondary Sjogren's is a sign of more aggressive RA.

I keep wishing that some day there would be a discovery that would help people who already have joint damage and save them from its' effects. It's true that prevention is the most effective method of all to save mobility, and online I have often told people who are nervous of drugs suggested by their doctors, that drug side effects are preferable to damaged joints.

It's hard for people who are newly diagnosed to realize this. In the waiting rooms of rheumatologists across the country you rarely see people with obvious deformities any more. This was pointed out to me recently by a rheumatologist I met. She said to her associates "We seldom see hands like this anymore."  With that statement alone the benefits of new treatments discovered in the last 20 years are highlighted.

For early arthritis, as long as primary doctors recognize the signs of RA and send people to a rheumatologist quickly the effects can now be minimal. That's a challenge when you realize that in Canada we have 1 rheumatologist for every 100,000 people. Access is a lot better in a big city than it is if you live in a remote area. Another issue is that with only 1% of the population having RA it is not common for GP doctors to have much experience with it.

Here's a poster that was distributed to primary doctor's offices in the UK to help raise awareness of the signs of inflammatory arthritis.

It's a good idea to raise awareness in any way possible. If posters like this can be seen in Doctor's offices it also helps with patient education. (Note: The symptoms shown in the poster also occur in the feet. There are many variations in the way people are affected by RA at the onset.)

When information is shared it has twice the value. 

So here's the good news! Better treatments are helping many people now. The treatments are due to scientific discoveries and now we are even able to imagine the day when gene testing will be able to predict how we will respond to treatments.

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I wish they would have had drugs like Actemra when I was diagnosed. Deformed hands and feet like mine make life difficult to say the least!