Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Year in Review
Here are some of the most important discoveries, events, and lessons learned about rheumatoid arthritis in 2017.
The importance of education
One might assume that rheumatologists already know everything they need to know about rheumatoid arthritis. While they may have a wealth of knowledge on the condition itself, and might even be very familiar with most treatment methods, it is highly unlikely that there is not more information out there for them to learn.
A recent study shows that group-based treatment quality improvement sessions allow rheumatologists to become more adept at caring for their patients both mentally and physically. These sessions typically focus on teaching the "treat to target" approach, which involves setting a treatment target, measuring progress towards achieving that target, altering treatments to meet that target, and increasing client consultation when making decisions. After conducting trials with over 320 participants, rheumatologists’ patient care was significantly improved after they participated in these targeted group sessions. This goes to show that while the practices of patients often heavily influence their recovery, rheumatologists must also be routinely trained on new developments in RA care and continue to improve the quality of their care.
Discovering new links
One of the most important ways of developing new treatments for RA is figuring out what causes it in the first place. This in turn allows research to better predict who will develop RA, and also gives them insights into how they could possibly treat it. One breakthrough made this year was a discovery of genes that could be linked to RA and other immune diseases. These genes, known as human leukocyte antigens, have been known to cause the immune system to misidentify cells and tissues from the body as being from an external source, leading to the development of autoimmune diseases, such as RA. This meant that researchers could identify which persons were at a greater risk of developing RA by looking for HLA variations. This gives researchers a new lead on how they can better diagnosis the disease, and could possibly lead to new treatments down the road. Researchers still need to figure out how they can target these HLA variations in patients in order to develop better treatments, which could take more studies and trials. That being said, this discovery gives a very positive outlook on RA treatment, and could very well lead to much better RA treatments in the near future.
Overall, 2017 was a very positive year for RA patients, and this article hopefully gives patients some relief that better treatments are on the way. For more information on RA medical breakthroughs, treatment options, and lifestyle tips, be sure to visit the many other rheumatoid arthritis articles on our website.