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Perspectives

Disease control versus pain management in rheumatoid arthritis

Bethan L Richards, Lyn March

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Abstract

Current treatments for rheumatoid arthritis have improved our ability to suppress inflammation; however, for a significant proportion of patients they rarely give complete pain relief. To maximise function and quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, disease control and pain management should be viewed as two integrated but separate entities.

Key Points

  • Pain management is a high priority for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Disease control and pain management are two separate entities.
  • Patients should be specifically questioned regarding the presence of pain rather than simply awaiting a spontaneous complaint.
  • Early detection and suppression of inflammation may prevent chronic pain due to peripheral and central sensitisation.
  • A multidisciplinary, multimodal approach combining education and nonpharmacological and pharmacological agents should be tailored to the individual patient.

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