Last year we reported that people with RA lose functional ability at a slower rate over time. The slowing is most likely because RA treatments are getting better. Now we've followed up on that with a new report on how RA progresses.

We looked at 18,485 people with RA who partcipated in the NDB for up to 11 years (3.7 average) from our ongoing research. If you're in the NDB study, this data comes from the questionnaires you complete twice a year.

The study divided RA patients into two main groups: moderate/severe RA and less severe RA. We then looked at how their functional level changed over time. We monitor this with a series of questions that asks about what physical things you are able to do, and if you have any difficutly doing them.

We also tried to account for other conditions that may affect function, such as other diseases, age, type of treatment, and others.

The results show that age and other concurrent diseases you may have affect  function the most. We found little difference in the effects of various biologic treatments. Taking biologics has a big role in preserving function, but the differences between the effectiveness of particular medications doesn't show up in the study group as a whole. (However, individuals often notice that some biologics work for them and some don't.)

Read more about this study.