Rheumatoid arthritis can be controlled with proper treatment
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 11:12 PM May 27, 2013
Most people believe that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) only happens to the elderly, that it is a condition that only afflicts those in their 50s and above. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Arthritis can hit even very young patients and those who are in the prime of their adult life.
Such was the case for Kares Velasquez Hammond, who was 32 years old when she first began experiencing total body pain that began in her back and was followed by pain in her hands, wrists and other extremities. She attributed the pain to stress and tried to push through the pain.
Through the recommendation of her mom, she saw their family’s general practitioner, who recommended her to Dr. Andrei Rodriguez, a rheumatologist at the Makati Medical Center.
He knew immediately it was rheumatoid arthritis. “The way her hands looked and the way she described the pain and symptoms were all calling cards for the disease. Clinically I already knew, but to confirm, I had her take all of the tests.”
Dr. Rodriguez began her on methotrexate and pain relievers. He wanted to control the disease immediately and to improve her quality of life. While she was on these medications, he discussed biologics, too. He felt she was young and healthy and a prime candidate for biologic treatment that could give her longer lasting results. They were both in agreement that they wanted to be aggressive in the treatment and help get her back to feeling normal as soon as possible. “Because of her age and health, I thought she would be a good candidate for tocilizumab infusions,” Dr. Rodriguez said.
Hammond began her first round of tocilizumab treatments before her wedding. Infusions began in July 2012 after being on methotrexate for just two months. Both doctor and patient noticed a quick response to the biologic medicine. The pain began to subside and it eventually went away.
“There are definitely challenges to being diagnosed with RA at such a young age, but Ms Hammond is handling everything admirably,” Dr. Rodriguez said.
Tocilizumab, in combination with methotrexate, is indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe active RA in adult patients who have either responded inadequately to, or who were intolerant to, previous therapy with one or more disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or TNF antagonists—two classes of drugs used to slow down RA progression.