Adverse Events: Adverse events are rare, but potentially serious because they affect vital organs like liver, lungs or bone marrow. Regular blood tests allow physicians to detect adverse events early before they become a serious problem or cause any damage.
Autoimmune Diseases: When the body's immune system reacts against itself, it causes inflammation in the tissues. Sometimes this can cause damage. In rheumatoid arthritis, this occurs in the joints and other organs, like the heart, lungs, skins, eyes and nerves.
Biologic Medications: A new category of DMARDs based on the use of biological compounds that are either naturally occurring or have been modified or bioengineered. Examples are the anti-TNF alpha drugs.
Disease Activity: Disease activity in RA refers to the level of inflammation that a person has in his or her body. Some people with RA experience very mild disease activity while others have disease activity that is more severe. There are a number of different kinds of blood tests that measure inflammation or the rheumatologist can physically examine your body by doing a swollen joint count.
DMARD (Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug): DMARDs are slower-acting medications that are designed to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. They reduce inflammation and decrease pain, and slow down joint damage.
ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate): ESR is a blood test that is used to determine the level of inflammation in a person's body.
Inflammation: The body's response to tissue injury or foreign substances. An inflamed joint looks swollen and red, and feels warm when touched. Inflammation is also what causes the joint to be painful.
Methotrexate: Methotrexate is one of the most common DMARDs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It takes 4 to 6 weeks of using Methotrexate to take effect.
NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug): NSAIDs or anti-inflammatory drugs help to reduce inflammation and decrease pain. NSAIDs do not treat the actual disease and they do not stop joint damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis. They include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and Cox-2 inhibitors.
Physical Function: Physical function is a person's ability to perform daily activities. Arthritis can affect physical functioning, as pain and stiffness can make it difficult to carry out activities related to self-care (e.g., dressing) and other everyday activities (e.g., house work, gardening, sports and recreational activities, and paid employment).
Placebo: A sham treatment. If the treatment is a tablet or capsule it will contain no active ingredient. The best placebos are identical to the real drug in all but their active ingredients and help to maintain blinding of subjects in single blind trials or blinding of both subjects and investigator in double blind trials. Placebos are used to help separate the real effect of the active ingredient from any benefit that the subject may experience by chance or purely by the action of taking tablets and the belief that it will help treat or cure a health condition.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): An autoimmune disease. While it more commonly affects people between the ages of 25 and 50, RA can affect people at any age. It is also more common in women.
Remission: Remission is when a person has no clinical signs of the RA. The American College of Rheumatology defines remission as:
Morning stiffness of no more than 15 minutes
No joint pain
No joint tenderness or pain on motion
No soft tissue swelling
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) of less than 30 in women and less than 20 in men
Side Effects: The side effects of a medication are unwanted or undesirable problems that can occur in addition to any benefits that the medication may have.