Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. It can also cause pain and fatigue, as well as affect other parts of the body such as the eyes and chest. This inflammation can be triggered by an overactive immune system that mistakenly attacks healthy tissue instead of fighting off an infection or foreign substances. In this blog, we discuss the role of biologic treatments in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
What are biologics?
Biologics are a type of medication that’s used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. They’re proteins that your body produces naturally, but they can also be made in a lab. Biologic drugs are a class of drugs that are manufactured through the use of living organisms, such as bacteria and yeast.
The biologic drugs that are most commonly used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis are called tumour necrosis factor (TNF) blockers. These block TNF, which is a protein that causes inflammation in the joints and other parts of the body. Biologics can be injected or infused into your veins. Some biologics come in pill form as well.
How biologics help to treat RA
Biologics are a type of drug that targets specific components of the immune system that fuel inflammation. They are effective in treating RA, with many people experiencing complete remission after being treated with these drugs.
Different biologics target different parts of the immune system that fuel inflammation. Some block TNF (inflammatory protein) and others block pro-inflammatory B cells or T cells. One biologic may work well for some people but not for others. Therefore it’s important to discuss your options with your doctor so you can find the best fit for your needs.
Side effects of biologics for RA
Biologics are a relatively new class of medication and represent a significant advance in treatment for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. While biologics are effective at reducing inflammation, they also carry risks.
The side effects of biologics for RA are few compared to other treatments. With that said, any drug that suppresses the immune system carries risks. Severe infections and reduced ability to make blood cells are two examples of these risks, but fortunately, they are rare. Other possible side effects include nausea, pain or swelling at the injection site, fatigue and headache. It is important to talk to your doctor about any new symptoms or concerns.
For more information or advice on how biologics can help to treat RA, don’t hesitate to contact our London clinic.