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Arthritic disease is known as one of the most common chronic diseases and rheumatoid arthritis causes most of the disablement instances around the world1. Rheumatoid arthritis ( RA ) is a systemic, chronic inflammatory disease which has a prevalence/morbidity of 1-3 % of the population of Europe and North America2. One out of three patients enduring from this disease is likely to go badly disabled1. RA is a non-fatal disease but it may dramatically diminish quality and length of life. The scope of 1.13-2.98 standardised mortality ratios was obtained from assorted surveies. It is found that the life spans of RA patients were shortened by 5-10 old ages. The complication of RA and besides non-specific decease causes for illustration nephritic disease and bacterial infection may increase the mortality rate6, 7, 8.

Rheumatoid arthritis may happen at all ages and the prevalence increases with age until the age of 703. Womans before climacteric is more likely to endure from this disease compared to men3. This disease affects the proximal interphalangeal and metacarpophalangeal articulations, cubituss, articulatio genuss, mortise joints and spinal column. Normally, the articulations are frequently affected at the same clip and in a symmetric pattern3. The whole procedure consists of reiterating remittal and aggravation.

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RA is an autoimmune disease where the organic structure ‘s immune system starts to assail healthy articulations alternatively of supporting the organic structure from infections. The cause of RA is unknown but there are a figure of factors that have been involved. The first is familial factor where an of import familial venue is found in HLA II cistrons which predispose to RA and a specific set of HLA-DR ( DR1, DR4, DR10, DR14 ) alleles is increased in RA patients3. Immunological mechanisms play an of import portion in RA where the lymph cells and plasma cells builds up in the synovial membrane and bring forth immunoglobin doing lifting serum degrees of IgM, IgA and IgG3. 80 % of normal RA patients are tested positive for rheumatoid factor which is chiefly IgM. Cellular unsusceptibility may lend to RA due to the interaction of T-cells with macrophages by bring forthing cytokines. Surveies show that joint devastation in RA express local production of cytokines, chiefly tumour mortification factor ( TNF ) and interleukin-1 ( IL-1 ) 3.

In drumhead, an unknown agent infects the articulation ensuing in antibodies production in genetically susceptible patients. These immunoglobins operate as antigens therefore trigger the formation of arthritic factor. Immune composites are so distributed in the synovial membrane causation increased vascular permeableness and consumption of immune composite by leucocytes due to activation of complement cascade3. The activated macrophages in the synovial membrane are unknown antigens to T cells in the organic structure, hence causes stimulation of cytokines which enhances redness, tissue hurt along with synovial cells proliferation3. The synovial membrane will finally go locally invasive ( pannus ) and this inflammatory procedure will eventually ensue in irreversible devastation of gristle every bit good as eroding of periarticular bone4.

Sign and Symptoms

The symptoms of RA frequently emerge easy. While RA is a chronic disease, patient may non see any symptoms for many years5. During remittal, the symptoms disappear and patients will frequently experience good. The symptoms return when the disease backsliding and this is called a flare5. The articulations that have been affected are warm, conceited and painful4. In the forenoon, the stiffness of the joint, due to the addition in extracellular fluid in every bit good as around the joint may do many troubles4. In RA patients, the liner of articulation is inflamed, doing inordinate synovial membrane fluid production. Systemic perturbation for illustration fatique and unease is besides common in RA patients4. In long term, the eroding of gristle every bit good as castanetss and musculuss will do malformation and besides devastation in articulations. In the terminal, this causes functional loss of joint5.


The diagnosing of RA is to analyze the symptoms form every bit good as distribution of inflamed articulations. Blood trial and X ray are besides done. In RA patients, the little articulations of manus, pess, articulatio genus and carpus are normally inflamed symmetrically. The grade of redness in the organic structure can be tested by red blood cells deposit rate and C-reactive protein5. These blood trials are done to mensurate articulations redness. The rate is usually faster during flair and slower during remittal. In unexplained joint redness, antibody called arthritic factor may be used for RA diagnosing. X raies can be used to demo bone eroding in the articulations and besides to supervise disease advancement over time5.

Patients of RA are classified as below:

Class I

wholly able to execute usual activities of day-to-day life

Class II

able to execute usual self-care and work activities but limited in activities outside of work ( such as playing athleticss, family jobs )

Class III

able to execute usual self-care activities but limited in work and other activities

Class IV

limited in ability to execute usual self-care, work, and other activities

Table 1: Categorization of RA patients.5

Treatment Options

The most effectual manner to handle RA is via early intervention, multidisciplinary drug attack, appropriate guidance, joint protection and besides exercise5. Drug intervention with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ) is used to alleviate hurting, redness and musculus stiffness but do non alter the long-run patterned advance of joint devastation. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs ( DMARDs ) , besides known as second-line drugs are used to modify the disease advancement or bring on remittal. DMARDs usually improves symptoms and bring forth long-run inflammatory depression. DMARDs may be initiated when definite diagnosing has been done but the oncoming of these drugs is slow, with small betterment in symptoms until around 3 months after intervention. Hence, NSAIDs is used to supply ‘cover ‘ during this initiation period1, 2, 3, 4.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory

NSAIDs act by suppressing the Cox ( Cox ) pathway9. In RA patients, the preferable mark is Cox 2 because this tract produces prostagladins which determine hurting every bit good as inflammation9. Evidence showed that NSAIDs are effectual in supplying alleviation in hurting and stiffness without act uponing disease progress11.

The inauspicious effects of NSAIDs are GI intolerance and peptic ulceration2. When the disease is mild, ibuprofen or diclofenac ( 75-150mg daily ) is used. Paracetamol may besides be used. When the redness becomes terrible, aspirin ( 2-6g daily ) , indomethacin ( 50-200mg daily ) or Feldene ( 30mg daily ) are used2, 10. The advantages of NSAIDs are fewer side effects and effectual direction of pain12.



Sulphasalazine is a first pick DMARD used in the United Kingdom ( UK ) 1. Radiographic grounds shows that this drug slows down active RA patterned advance but its manner of action is ill understood2. Toxic O metabolites generated by neutrophils may be scavenged by this drug1. Sulphasalazine is hydrolysed by the colon ‘s bacteriums to organize 5-aminosalicylic acid which is known as a extremist scavenger and besides sulfapyridine1, 4. The latter constituent may diminish the antigens soaking up from the colon which encourages redness of joints4. Besides that, sulphasalazine can change assorted signal transduction tracts which are responsible in the proinflammatory cytokines production for illustration cistron written text mediated by NF-?B4. Evidence showed that sulphasalazine had a statistically important betterment in stamp, conceited articulation tonss, ESR and hurting when compared to placebo13.

The common inauspicious effects are GI perturbation, unease, concern, mouth ulcer and rash1. Soft contact lenses may be stained and urine may be coloured orange10. Besides that, reversible oligospermia, a lessening in sperm count has been reported4. In some patients, blood dyscrasias every bit good as anaphylactic-type reactions may occur1. The advantages of sulphasalazine is the rapid oncoming of action which is within 8-12 hebdomads, can be used during diagnosing uncertainness and it is safe in thrombocytopenia9. The monitoring demands are full blood count, nephritic and liver map every bit good as urinalysis9.


Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are known as 4-aminoquinoline drugs which are used in the prophylaxis and intervention of malaria1. They are besides used as DMARDs due to the decrease in T-lymphocyte transmutation every bit good as chemotaxis4. These drugs map as anti-inflammatory and have immunomodulating effects which are utile in RA2. Antimalarials increase the pH of macrophage lysosomes, therefore cut downing the interaction between T-helper cells and antigen-presenting macrophage. It besides helps cut down the coevals of several inflammatory cytokines4. Evidence showed that Plaquenil is statistically important in RA intervention compared to placebo by bettering joint count, hurting and ESR14.

Antimalarials build up in many variety meats including the eyes therefore the major side consequence of these drugs is on the retina but this is rare and safe and low doses that are recommended. Other side effects include sickness and headaches4. The advantages of these drugs are no blood monitoring required, can be used in diagnosing uncertainness and safe in thrombopenia and leucopenia9. Eye cheque should be done before get downing and every 6 months during therapy2.


Methotrexate is a vitamin Bc hostility which has immunosuppressant, cytotoxic belongingss and antirheumatoid activity1. Methotrexate or sulphasalazine is normally first pick DMARDs due to better tolerability10. This drug may do adenosine accretion, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory go-between that affects neutrophil adhesion, cytokine production along with macrophage function4. A 5 old ages survey showed that there is important betterment ( p=0.0001 ) in ESR, joint hurting and tenderness index and joint swelling index15.

The common inauspicious effects are nausea, diarrhea, mouth ulcer and rash9. In long term, it may do chronic liver disease, pneumonitis, blood dyscrasias and timeserving infection2. Hence, the use of this drug should be closely monitored and it is contra-indicated in liver and nephritic damage patients because it is excreted renally1. The advantages are rapid oncoming of action compared to others DMARDs ( 6-10weeks ) , can be used in diagnosing uncertainness and available orally, endovenous and subcutaneous9. It is besides administered hebdomadal which may increase compliance9.

Gold Compounds

Sodium aurothiomalate by intramascular injection and auranofin by oral cavity are normally used2. Mononuclear cells takes up gilded compounds ensuing in phagocytic suppression. This will do decrease in inflammatory go-betweens release such as TNF-? and IL-1 and besides do inflammatory cells proliferation inhibition1, 4. It besides inhibits NF-?B which is involved in inflammation4. A test showed that gold compounds are statistically important in bettering grip strength and diminishing ESR compared to placebo16.

Adverse effects happen in one tierce of patients treated and 1 of patients will see serious toxic effects1. Common side effects are mouth ulcers, tegument roseolas, diarrhea ( unwritten gold ) , inflammatory bowel disease, albuminuria, stomatitis and blood disorder9, 10. Gold should non be used in patients with history of nephritic or hepatic disease, blood dyscrasias or terrible tegument rashes4. There will be no benefits until about 300-500mg has been given and should be terminated after 1g has been given without remittal occurring10. Monitoring includes full blood count and uranalysis to avoid toxicity and drug should be terminated at earliest mark of harm2. Advantages include patient penchant and conformity due to its hebdomadal to monthly dosing intervals1, 9 ( for Na aurothiomalate ) . The advantage of auranofin is its unwritten gold use.


Penicillamine is a dimethylcysteine, a compound produced by penicillin hydrolysis1. It decreases the arthritic factor every bit good as the accretion of immune composites in synovial fluid and plasma2. Around 75 % of RA patients respond to this drug1. More patients are able to go on intervention with Cuprimine compared to gold10. Evidence showed that Cuprimine has statistically important benefit in stamp articulation count, ESR and hurting in RA patients compared to placebo17.

Side effects occur in approximately 40 % of patients treated1. Allergic reactions which include febrility and roseolas happen during early intervention stage2. Other side effects are aneroxia, gustatory sensation loss, sickness, albuminuria and blood disorder4, 9. Treatment should be terminated when bone marrow upset ( leukopenia, aplastic anaemia ) , hematuria ( which occurs seldom ) and late roseolas happen1, 10. Monitoring include full blood count, urea and electrolytes trial every bit good as urinalysis9.


Leflunomide has about specific suppressive consequence on activated T-cells1 which reduces immune procedure. It binds to dehydroorotate dehydrogenase therefore suppressing de novo synthesis of pyrimidine which is needed in the proliferation of activated lymphocytes1, 4. Leflunomide is a prodrug and has a long half life of 15 yearss which is excreted by gall and kidney. It may be used when sulfasalazine and mehotrexate can non be used10. Clinical surveies showed that Arava is statistically important in bettering active RA symptoms and decelerating disease development compared to placebo and besides tantamount to methotrexate18.

Common side effects are alopecia, diarrhea, sickness, roseola and rise in blood pressure9, 10. Bone-marrow toxicity and hepatic failure may happen rarely1, 10. Monitoring include full blood count, liver and kidney trial and blood force per unit area monitoring9.


Cyclosporin binds to protein cyclophilin and inhibits calcineurin therefore doing suppression of IL-2 production and T-cell rhythm progression1, 4. Cyclosporin besides suppresses other cellular mitogen-activated protein kinase triggered by TNF-? and IL-1 1. It is licensed for terrible ague RA when conventional second-line therapy is ineffective10. Evidence show that cyclosporin may diminish the erosive rate and better symptom control in patients who respond partly to methotrexate10. Evidence showed that there is important betterment in hurting ( 24 % ) and active articulation ( 23 % ) compared to placebo19.

The most of import side effects are nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicity and hypetension1. Other side effects include shudder, paresthesia, gum hypertrophy and GI disturbances9. Liver and kidney map trial and blood force per unit area monitoring are needed9. It has no depressant consequence on bone marrow which may be the advantage1.


Azathioprine is an immunosuppressor which interferes with purine synthesis and is cytotoxic1. It is a prodrug and is metablosised to organize Purinethol that inhibits DNA synthesis1. It suppresses clonal proliferation that happens during initiation stage of immune response1. Evidence showed that Imuran has statistically important betterment in the articulations of RA patients ; nevertheless it has a high hazard to profit ratio20.

Adverse effects are nausea, hypersensitivity reactions, bone-marrow suppression and increased susceptibleness to infections10. Advantage of this drug is it can be used in nephritic disease patients9.

Anticytokine Drugs

The drugs in this class are adalimumab, etanercept and Remicade which are TNF-? inhibitors1. Anakinra is another anticytokine drug which is an IL-1 antagonist4. In UK, these drugs are restricted to patients who have failed to react to at least 2 DMARDs10. Surveies showed that anticytokines are significantly better than placebo in forenoon stiffness, hurting mark, swollen joint count, ESR and C-reactive protein21, 22.

The side effects of TNF-? inhibitors are associated with infections, febrility, sickness, pruritus, injection site reaction and blood disorders1, 10. Anakinra may do injection site reaction, infection and neutropenia4, 10. The disadvantages are hard and expensive in bring forthing because they are recombinant engineered antibodies1.


It is good known that corticoids are utile in alleviating effects of redness. Corticosteroids inhibit IL-2 production and T-cell rhythm patterned advance. They besides cut down written text of assorted cytokine cistrons in stages of immune response1. Steroids are used as adjunct for NSAIDs or DMARDs and span therapy is used for symptom control while waiting for DMARDs to take effect2. Spaced individual tremendous dosage are used for fast and sustained alleviation of acute aggravations known as’flare ‘ 2. Some surveies significantly showed that low dose unwritten Pediapred cut down the short-run disease activity in 60 % of RA patients every bit good as impermanent relief23, 24, 25. Prednisolone 7.5g daily when added to standard intervention may diminish the joint devastation progress2.

Although symptom alleviation is effectual, long term intervention is non recommended due to serious inauspicious effects in systemic steroids for RA2. Side effects include adrenal suppression, osteoporosis and diabetes10.


Harmonizing to NICE guideline, in freshly diagnosed active RA patients, a combination of DMARDs which include amethopterin and at least one other DMARDs plus short-run glucocorticoids ( unwritten, intramuscular or intra-articular ) is used as first line treatment26. If a DMARD does non hold any benefits within 6 months, it should be replaced by a different drug10. Corticosteroids are non recommended for long term usage and the disposal of the lowest possible dosage should be given at the shortest clip possible to quickly cut down inflammation9. Patient should be monitored closely. Oral corticoids should be withdrawn measure by measure to avoid recoil flare9. Intra-articular injections should non be given more than 3 times a twelvemonth in any joints9.

It is usual to get down with NSAIDs for hurting direction until diagnosing and patterned advance of disease is confirmed. The lowest Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory dosage and merely one NSAID should be prescribed at a clip for sufficient symptom alleviation and it should be reduced or withdrawn if there is good response to DMARDs. A proton pump inhibitor should besides be co-prescribed with NSAIDs in RA patients elder than 65 old ages old and those with history of peptic ulcer. Other anodynes for illustration paracetamol and codeine can be given for patients with unequal hurting control to cut down demand of long-run therapy with NSAIDs26.

In this instance, a 64 old ages old female had failed to response to 6 months sulphasalazine therapy. Hence, an alternate drug therapy should be given. A CORRONA database survey found that a alteration of drug was associated with an betterment in functional ability of RA patients27. Evidence showed that combination DMARDs therapy is better in remittal in RA symptoms and less harmful than monotherapy28. It is found that amethopterin and antimalarials had highest efficaciousness comparative to toxicity when compared to other DMARDs and placebo29. Methotrexate has highest efficaciousness and least toxicity while antimalarials has moderate efficaciousness with lowest toxicity rate29. A survey found that the ternary combination of amethopterin, sulphasalazine and Plaquenil is significantly good tolerated and is superior in efficaciousness compared to monotherapy, dual combination of amethopterin and sulphasalazine every bit good as amethopterin and Plaquenil. Another survey showed that the best intervention for RA will be methotrexate, adding other DMARDs and a Pediapred due to functional betterment in RA patients31.

Methotrexate has a half life of 9 hours and it is to be given 7.5mg one time hebdomadal orally to maximum of 20mg weekly10. Hydroxychloroquine has a half life of 18 yearss and is administered 6.5mg/kg day-to-day by oral cavity up to a upper limit of 400mg daily10. Sulphasalazine is given by unwritten 500mg daily up to maximum of 2-3g day-to-day in divided dose10. Oral Pediapred can be given 7.5mg day-to-day for rapid redness decrease and is to be withdrawn easy. Patient should be monitored closely by full blood count and nephritic liver map trial hebdomadally until intervention stabilized and besides oculus check9. Alcohol consumption should besides be restricted9.

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