Researchers have found that early, aggressive treatment with a combination of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) provides long-term benefits for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study involved 160 participants in the early stages of RA who were treated with 3 different DMARDs or conventional single-DMARD therapy. During the Finnish study, the participants were assessed 5 years after taking part in a clinical trial.
The study results, reported recently in Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that, after 5 years, the participants who received triple-combination- DMARD therapy showed a 28% remission rate, compared with a 21% remission rate among individuals in the single-DMARD group. The participants in the combination group reported less swelling pain and mobility. Furthermore, they had dramatically less RA-related joint damage in their hands and feet.
The researchers pointed out that long-term effects were witnessed only in the participants who received combination-DMARD treatment soon after the RA diagnosis. On the other hand, those who started on single-DMARD therapy and later took combination-DMARD therapy did not have the same results.