What you should know about infusion therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, including benefits, side effects, and more.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting the joints and other parts of the body. So while physical therapy and medicine are two great therapeutic choices for RA, some may not benefit from these regimens — in which case infusion treatment might be a better choice.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disorder that causes the body's immune system to wrongly target healthy cells, including the joints. Normally, the immune system is meant to defend you from outside intruders like viruses and germs, but with RA it doesn’t.
A hyperactive immune system contributes to inflammation in RA patients, which leads to discomfort and swelling in and around the joints. When long-lasting inflammation occurs, it can harm bones and the cartilage that covers the ends of joints, resulting in joint pain. Once this harm has been done, it typically cannot be undone. Additionally, organs including the heart, eyes, and lungs can be impacted by RA inflammation.
Some risk factors of RA include age, gender, genetics, and environmental exposure (tobacco use, exposure to air pollution, and occupational exposure).
The objectives of RA treatment are to alleviate discomfort and prevent or slow additional damage because unfortunately, there is no known cure. The treatments also help with avoiding joint degeneration and deformity, maximizing joint function, and reducing joint inflammation and discomfort.
What is infusion therapy?
Infusion therapy is a therapeutic method that involves administering biologic drugs or fluids directly into the body via a syringe or peripheral IV catheter. Infusion therapy is frequently used:
- When a patient cannot take medication orally
- When the medication needs to be administered at a regulated rate
- When stomach acids might potentially harm the medication
- When a physician or provider determines an IV medication will manage the patient’s disease more effectively
For instance, when exposed to the digestive system, several medications lose their potency. Additionally, some with specific medical issues are unable to take oral medications. From infections to cancer, infusion treatment is effective in treating a wide range of diseases like ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, etc.
Read More: Infusion Therapy: What Is It & Conditions It Treats
Benefits of infusion therapy for rheumatoid arthritis
Patients with moderate to severe RA may occasionally find it challenging to take oral drugs or find that they are ineffective altogether. When this happens, a health professional may advise that they get an intravenous drug infusion treatment of:
- Golimumab (Simponi Aria)
- Infliximab (Remicade or biosimilars like Avsola, Inflectra, or Renflexis)
- ORENCIA® (Abatacept)
- Tocilizumab (Actemra)
- Rituximab (Rituxan)
Intravenous administration causes the drug to enter the bloodstream immediately. These drugs are referred to as biologics and can be used with a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) like methotrexate to reduce signs and symptoms of RA. They also belong to a group of drugs called TNF inhibitors because they block an inflammatory substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in the blood.
The benefits of infusion therapy:
- Decrease in inflammation: Infusion treatment helps decrease RA-related inflammation, which in turn may lessen joint damage, discomfort, and stiffness.
- Increased mobility: Infusion treatment can help increase the mobility and range of motion in injured joints by lowering pain and inflammation.
- Personalized care: Based on each patient's unique symptoms and reaction to treatment, infusion therapy can be customized to meet specific needs.
- Convenient administration: Many patients find infusion therapy to be a convenient treatment choice since it can be regularly delivered in a comfortable, clinical environment by a healthcare professional.
- Potential for long-term remission: Infusion treatment has the potential to help certain RA patients achieve long-term remission, enabling them to lead more active, pain-free lives.
Infusion therapy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis can result in reduction of symptoms for anywhere between six months and a year. The severity of the sickness and the kind of medication being given determine how long each infusion session lasts.
Infusion therapy is also beneficial for treating adults with Crohn’s, active psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, etc.
Side effects of infusion therapy for rheumatoid arthritis
Infusion therapy is an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, but like any type of medication it can cause a variety of side effects and allergic reactions, including:
- Higher risk of infection, especially upper respiratory infections
Less frequently, infusions result in more severe side effects, including symptoms like:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest constriction
- Swelling of face and hands
- Drop in blood pressure
How Local Infusion can help
Local Infusion offers modern, state-of-the-art centers with private suites, designed with your comfort in mind.
From questions on what to expect in your first infusion session, to providing financial guidance and support, a dedicated Infusion Guide works with you and your physician to provide clear answers and assistance every step of the way.
We’ll reach out within hours of a physician referral and get you digitally on board in less than two minutes, allowing our staff more time to focus on you.
Should you have questions regarding pricing and insurance, our team will work with you to provide financial assistance support and minimize costs, providing a simple and stress-free experience.
READ MORE: Why Local Infusion