What Does RA Remission Mean?

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[MUSIC PLAYING] TINA C. BUNCH: So as rheumatoid arthritis physicians, we want to get patients into remission. What we consider remission in rheumatoid arthritis is to have ideally zero swollen joints on exam, but then also from a patient perspective, that they're able to do what they want to do without pain. So that's also critical.

The vast majority of time when rheumatologists are talking about remission, we're talking about a medication-induced remission. The likelihood of it going away just on its own is extremely low. But there are also going to be non-medication modalities, such as physical therapy, massage, acupuncture. All of these are additional modalities that patients may employ in order to mitigate the pain that they experience.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis can indeed have a relapse of their arthritis. In certain cases, the medications can lose their efficacy over time. And part of that can be because the body is developing antibodies against the medication. The likelihood is if the medications are stopped, then the symptoms will start to come back over time. So everything is in a fluid state in patients with RA. It's not as if we get him into remission and then they're done forever. Things can flare up. There may need to be a change in medication.

Certainly with medication, we can get patients to a quality of life that is wonderful so that they can do what they want to do. There's a variety of things that the physician can do to help them get through it, but you need to go ahead and go see the physician.