By: Sue Carrington |

Quick read:

Arthritis is an autoimmune disease affecting one in every five Americans. Most common symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, fatigue, limited movement, and reduced quality of life. There are three main types: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Although there is currently no cure, IVs can be used to administer treatment to ease the symptoms of the disease.

Full story:

If you suffer from arthritis – inflamed joints – you know the struggles this condition can bring: pain, stiffness, swelling, fatigue, limited movement, and even reduced quality of life.

One of every five Americans has arthritis, which comes in more than 100 types. Three of the most common are osteoarthritis (OA), when cartilage tissue breaks down; rheumatoid arthritis (RA), when the body’s immune system attacks body tissue; and psoriatic arthritis, when the skin and joints become inflamed.  

How can IV infusions help?

Some patients find oral medications to be minimally effective for treatment. In these cases, a doctor may suggest a different treatment: intravenous infusions, with drugs administered directly into the vein in fluid form.

If you’re a good candidate for IV infusion therapy, your doctor will make arrangements for you to receive your IV treatment in an outpatient setting, where medical staff will set up the infusion and care for you throughout the procedure.

A key advantage of infusions is that they’re needed less often than oral medicines. Typically, you’ll spend an hour or two receiving the infusion and may not need to return for several months for the next treatment.

What kinds of IV medicines are used?

A variety of medicines, such as steroids, can be administered by IV to reduce pain and inflammation. Another effective treatment is low-dose chemotherapy drugs. Instead of killing cells altogether, these drugs work to decrease the processes that lead to inflammation.

Other IV medicines can prevent further damage to the joints or other organ systems by suppressing the immune system. A new type of these immune-suppressing drugs acts like natural proteins in your body. Called “biologics,” they have succeeded where other medicines have failed in reducing symptoms. Some patients using biologics have gone into remission from their arthritis.*  

What are the potential complications of IV infusion for patients with arthritis?

A key complication of IV infusion is infiltration – when medication leaks into surrounding tissues instead of going into the bloodstream. Infiltration can cause tissue damage, making the damage caused by arthritis even worse. About 20 percent of IVs fail because of infiltration. The key to preventing complications is closely monitoring IV use.

For a complete list of complications from IV therapy, read IV Complications: What Can Go Wrong?

How do I know my IV treatment is working?

IV medications generally take a few weeks or months to show improvement. After several treatments, you may find you have less joint pain, less fatigue, and more range of motion. Your doctor will continue to perform tests and take x-rays to see if your symptoms are improving. Set realistic goals with your doctor to understand how many IV treatments are needed before you can expect progress.

Will IV infusion therapy cure my arthritis?

Although there is currently no cure, IV medications can slow down the progression of the disease by as much as 70 percent. The aim of treatment is to relieve your symptoms, reduce pain, and restore your quality of life overall.

 

 

*This differs from patient to patient and is not considered a definitive cure.

References:

Accepted, But Unacceptable: Peripheral IV Catheter Failure – http://www.wisconsinvascularaccessservice.com/webdocuments/accepted-but-unacceptable-peripheral-iv-catheter.pdf

Arthritis Statistics and Facts – http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/arthritis-statistics-facts.php

Using biologic drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis –

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/03/using-biologic-drugs-to-treat-rheumatoid-arthritis/index.htm

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