How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Remission Defined?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune, inflammatory, potentially disabling type of arthritis which affects 1.5 million American adults. The disease can be associated with joint pain, joint deformity, decreased physical function, as well as systemic effects. The degree of severity depends on the individual but, regardless, the goal is to slow disease progression and stave off disability.
When a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is established, a treatment plan is immediately developed.
In addition to managing symptoms of the disease, the ultimate goal of treatment is to help the patient achieve remission.
Biologic drugs, which first came on the scene in 1998, made remission an attainable goal. While some rheumatoid arthritis patients were able to achieve remission prior to the availability of biologic drugs, most did not. Biologic drugs had more advanced targets in the body and with that, the possibility of remission became a more realistic goal.
The advancement to biologics was not in line, though, with the definition of remission that had been created in 1981 by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). The American College of Rheumatology recognized a need to update the 1981 definition. Not only does the updated remission definition give researchers clearer standards in clinical trials, it gives patients the sense that remission is achievable and gives them perspective about when remission occurs.
In 1981, remission was defined as elimination of all disease. The updated definitions for remission are more specific.