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Arthritis and Rheumatism

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Progress Despite Taking Medications?

03/28/2008

Question:

I just got back from my eye specialist and he told me that I have dry eyes and gave me drops for them. I have had RA for 4 years and it has also affected my lungs. I am already taking Enbrel, NSAID, MTX and Prednisone for my RA. I think that my RA needs to be better controlled because of these other problems and I always have a lot of pain, stiffness and swelling. My hips are so bad now that I can`t put on my own socks and shoes anymore. I am only 34 years old. Do the other problems that I am having because of my RA mean that my RA is progressing despite medications? What might I be in for in the furture?

Answer:

As you are experiencing, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) can have manifestations outside of the joints. It can be a challenge to distinguish of your symptoms are: directly related to active RA versus consequences of residual damage from previously active RA.

If your physician determines that your RA is still active, there are alternative biologic medicines to the anti-TNF medicine (etancercept, aka Enbrel) that your are currently taking. These include other anti-TNF's, B-cell directed therapy, and T-cell co-stimulatory blockade. Combinations of oral agents may also be tried, but these regimens have less evidence of effectiveness in somebody who is having an inadequate response to etanercept.

For more information:

Go to the Arthritis and Rheumatism health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Raymond  Hong, MD, MBA, FACR Raymond Hong, MD, MBA, FACR
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University