The number of persons affected by arthritis is going up and this number is going to continue to climb because the baby boomer generation is aging. Recent numbers indicate that over 21 percent of adults (1 in 5) reported being diagnosed with osteoarthritis or another arthritis related condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.
It can be very tempting for newly diagnosed patients to listen and consider unsubstantiated claims regarding various supplements, water treatments, diets, and other non-traditional treatments that promise a “cure” for arthritis. The fact is – there is no cure for arthritis and the key to management of arthritis symptoms is control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report: “It is important to keep in mind that there are many forms of arthritis, and a specific diagnosis of the type you have may help to direct the proper treatment. Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management are important, especially for inflammatory types of arthritis.”
Disease modifying drugs and biologic agents used for autoimmune arthritis conditions affect the course of the disease. Therefore, early diagnosis and proper treatment makes a difference in pain levels and joint damage.
Remission is not a cure because the disease is not gone. A cure would leave the patient with no symptoms at all and no need for further treatment. Remission, in particular, as it relates to rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune arthritis forms, is defined by the American College of Rheumatology as morning stiffness that lasts less than 15 minutes, no fatigue, no joint pain, no joint tenderness or any range of motion pain, or swelling in the joints. Moreover, ESR rates (measures of inflammation) less than or equal to 30 in women and 20 in men are also indicators of remission. Only 5% of those in remission discontinue medications but the rest have to stay on medication in order to stay in remission.
As far as osteoarthritis goes, it is the most common type of arthritis and it affects 27 million Americans. That high number, without a doubt, indicates that there is NO cure for osteoarthritis. It is a chronic disease which means it will get worse over time and right now, management of the disease is the only option. Research has also indicated that there may be ways to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis and researchers are starting to look at disease modifying drugs but until such time that these types of medications are available, OA patients must manage their diseases through healthy living and lifestyle management.