What to Know About Infusion Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Apr 03, 2024
What to Know About Infusion Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

During the course of treating rheumatoid arthritis, your physician may recommend an infusion-type medication. This is often the case when another medication fails to adequately manage your symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder. While there’s no cure for RA, infusion therapy with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs is effective at managing symptoms of RA and improving quality of life. 

Here at Comprehensive Arthritis Care, board-certified rheumatologist Mohammad F. Ali, MD, and our board-certified physician assistants Whitney Phillips, PA-C, and Ari Hardin, PA-C, provide a patient-centered approach to rheumatoid arthritis treatment. The goal of IV infusion therapy is to slow RA progression and alleviate symptoms. 

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects not only the joints, but also other body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. In RA, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's tissues, which can lead to painful swelling, bone erosion, and joint deformity.

What is infusion therapy for RA?

Some of the most effective medications for RA are administered via infusion. These are biologic medications that each target a different part of the immune system. There are four biologic medications available for infusion therapy:

  1. Tocilizumab
  2. Abatacept
  3. Infliximab 
  4. Rituximab

These medications block different proteins involved in the inflammatory process, reducing inflammation and improving joint pain. Your doctor may recommend a biologic infusion if your symptoms haven’t responded to medications like methotrexate. 

How does infusion therapy benefit RA patients?

Infusion therapy provides a more targeted approach to treatment, focusing on specific immune pathways to reduce inflammation with potentially fewer side effects.

Many patients prefer infusion therapy over oral medications. As medications are delivered directly into the bloodstream, many patients experience quicker symptom relief compared to oral medications. 

What should I expect during infusion therapy?

Infusions are administered in comfortable recliners, and patients can enjoy high-speed Wi-Fi and complimentary snacks during their treatment. With minimal wait times, the clinic ensures that your treatment experience is as stress-free as possible.

You can expect your infusion session to last from 30 minutes to several hours based on the specific medication. During this time, you can relax and engage in light activities. Our team will monitor you for infusion site reactions and allergic reactions to ensure you’re safe and comfortable.

How do I know if infusion therapy is right for me?

Deciding on infusion therapy involves a detailed discussion with your health care provider. Factors to consider include the severity of your RA, your response to other treatments, and overall health. 

Can infusion therapy cure my RA?

While there’s no cure for RA, infusion therapy can significantly manage symptoms and improve quality of life. By targeting specific aspects of the immune system, it can reduce inflammation and pain, slow joint damage, and enhance physical function.

How often will I need infusion therapy?

The frequency of infusion therapy varies depending on the medication and your response to treatment. Some infusion treatments are administered once every few months. Your health care provider develops a schedule tailored to your specific needs.

Rheumatoid arthritis doesn't have to dictate the quality of your life. With the right treatment plan, including infusion therapy, and the support of a dedicated health care team like the skilled providers at Comprehensive Arthritis Care, you can manage your symptoms effectively.

If you're living with RA and are exploring treatment options, consider reaching out to Comprehensive Arthritis Care today. Call our Hendersonville, Tennessee, office to get started, or request an appointment online.