Helping you detect, treat and manage arthritis

Arthritis: A Joint Responsibility

Beat Arthritis: A Joint Venture with the Arthritis Research Foundation by Johanna Kendall

From the National Post, February 26, 2013 – This is the story of Erinn McQueen, a varsity athlete who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in her third year of university, at the age of 21. Now 34 years old and married with two children, Erinn had her hip replaced in March 2011 and is unable to return to work. She has tried a variety of treatments over the years, “including biologics that can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.” She is quoted as saying, “I have been on intravenous infusion treatments and the injections I give myself… It was a pretty difficult thing to realize that I likely wouldn’t play again or even just go for a run… I sort of view RA as the opponent, I wake up every day and know that this is my challenge.”

Also quoted in the article is Erinn’s doctor, Toronto rheumatologist Dr. Edward Keystone. “Rheumatoid arthritis is a joint medical responsibility” he states, adding that 300,000 Canadians are suffering from RA, but if the disease is diagnosed early and treatment is started, patients are less likely to develop “the worst symptoms.”

Dr. Keystone, who is based out of Mount Sinai Hospital and is also a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, said, “We have changed the way we treat patients… It really is a sea of change in terms of treatment and how patients are doing. In fact, it really is the most exciting time ever in the history of the treatment of [RA].”

Dr. Keystone says that most RA patients originally think they have a more prevalent form of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, which is most common and less severe. The article outlines how arthritis is typically first treated with NSAIDs that relieve the symptoms but don’t slow the progression (Naproxen, Advil, Voltaren, Celebrex), and then DMARDS (methotrexate and biologic therapies) that actually stop the process and reduce inflammation. The article highlights that “most severe cases of arthritis are treated with new biologic medications that can run about $20,000 per year.”

The article also discusses the economic impact of arthritis ($33-billion per year), the cost per person to treat ($6,000-8,000) and indirect cost to society. The article ends with a call to action, urging those experiencing symptoms of RA to see a doctor as soon as possible: National Post – Tues. February 26 2013