As reported in Arthritis Today, people who have been diagnosed with RA in the past 15 years are less likely to need joint replacement surgery compared to those diagnosed prior to that 15 year period. These results of this study are published in The Journal of Rheumatology. Researchers link this to more aggressive treatments (the biologic agents) in accompaniment of traditional disease modifying drugs such as methotrexate.
The lead researcher, Dr. Eric Matteson who is the rheumatology chair at the Mayo Clinic was intrigued with the declining numbers of RA related surgeries. So he and his fellow researchers reviewed the records over 813 RA patients who had surgeries between 1980 and 2007. What they found was that 27% of those diagnosed between 1980 and 1994 needed at least on surgery in the 10 years following their diagnoses. That number was 19.5% for those diagnosed between 1995 and 2007.
The research also found a significant decline in small joint replacement surgeries. This includes those involving ankles, feet or hands. In fact, hand surgeries dropped from 6.3% percent in the 1980 to 1994 group to 2.5% in the 1995 to 2007 group. “We found that people with rheumatoid arthritis are now having surgery on their hips and knees at rates very similar to people with osteoarthritis (OA) and having less small-joint surgery than in the past,” Dr. Matteson says. “We believe that this is because of improved treatment in recent decades – a finding that highlights the importance of active disease management.”
How about for some good news?
Source: Rath, Linda. (2012, Feb. 7.) “Newer Diagnosis of RA May Mean Fewer Surgeries.” Arthritis Today. http://www.arthritistoday.org/news/rheumatoid-arthritis-fewer-surgeries177.php