Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients See Big Boost in Quality of Life

Dutch study found substantial drops in anxiety, depression and disability over 2 decades

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She added that non-medication treatments -- including exercise therapy and a form of counseling known as cognitive behavioral therapy -- have also been shown to help.

The bottom line, Overman said, is: "Today, [rheumatoid arthritis] patients have a better opportunity of living a valued life than patients diagnosed with this autoimmune disease two decades ago."

Dr. John Hardin -- vice president for research at the Arthritis Foundation, and a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City -- wholeheartedly agreed.

"Today we have a whole new series of drugs that have changed the face of the disease," he said. "All very good drugs. So the challenge now is to find the right drug for the right patient."

Hardin said his foundation is focused on helping to develop tools and techniques that show beforehand which drug is best for which patient, to better tailor treatments.

"And I'm very optimistic going forward," he added, "given the new powers of biomedical research, and genetics. I think we have every reason to believe that even better treatments will continue to come along, and we'll know better and better just how to apply those treatments."

More information

For more on rheumatoid arthritis, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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