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Internist (Berl). 2016 Nov;57(11):1042-1051.

[Management of rheumatoid arthritis].

[Article in German]

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ACURA Rheumazentrum Baden-Baden, Rotenbachtalstr. 5, 76530, Baden-Baden, Deutschland.
Praxiszentrum St. Bonifatius, München, Deutschland.


Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common inflammatory rheumatic disease. Due to the destruction of joints in the course of the disease it leads to significant morbidity in affected patients. The quality of life and even life expectancy can be severely impaired. Early diagnosis and early initiation of treatment is a decisive step towards a more benign course of the disease. New classification criteria have been published in order to help in early diagnosis. Methods of imaging, such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging help in the detection of synovitis, which is the major pathomorphological manifestation of arthritis and should be identified without any doubt. Treatment follows the rule of treat to target with the aim of achieving remission or if this is not realistic, at least the lowest possible level of disease activity. The first and perhaps most important step in therapy is the initiation of methotrexate or if contraindications are present, another disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) as soon as the diagnosis is made. Initial addition of glucocorticoids is recommended, which should be reduced in dose and terminated as soon as possible. Furthermore, either the combination of different DMARDs or the start of biologic DMARDs, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors or second generation biologic DMARDs is possible as a treatment option. The treatment follows the rule of shared decision-making and is the standard to treat comorbidities, the use an interdisciplinary approach and to treat functional deficits by rehabilitation measures, such as physiotherapy.


Antirheumatic agents; Biologics; Comorbidity; Methotrexate; Synovitis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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