Dr. V.P.K. Nell from Vienna, Austria, showed that people who started treatment for rheumatoid arthritis three months after having been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis did better than those who started treatment 20 months after diagnosis. After one year, X rays showed that the late starters had more severe joint damage. The authors concluded that there might be a window of opportunity in which RA must be treated aggressively to obtain optimal outcomes. If you are not treated before your joints are damaged, you cannot be cured.
These researchers prescribed the standard treatment for rheumatoid arthritis of methotrexate and prednisone, two drugs that suppress immunity and have lots of serious side effects such as increased susceptibility to infections and cancers. Most American doctors do not believe that rheumatoid arthritis is an infectious disease and therefore most American doctors do not treat rheumatoid arthritis with antibiotics. Their current feeling is that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. That means that a peson's immunity is so stupid that, instead of doing its job of protecting the body from infections, it attacks the joints to cause terrible arthritis.
In 1939, more than 62 years ago, Thomas MacPherson Brown isolated a bacteria called mycoplasma from the joint fluid of person with rheumatoid arthritis and he spent the rest of his life trying to prove that mycoplasma causes rheumatoid arthritis. Six prospective double blind studies show that the antibiotic, minocycline helps treat rheumatoid arthritis, provided the antibiotic is started within the first few months of the disease. There are no prospective double-blind studies showing that minocycline is not effective. Many doctors who treat rheumatoid arthritis are unfamiliar with this literature and have no clinical experience in prescribing antibiotics to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
This study confirms that effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis must be early in the course of the disease before cartilage is destroyed, because doctors have no treatment to heal damaged cartilage. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with long term antibiotics is controversial and not accepted by many doctors; discuss it with your doctor.
European Congress of Rheumatology, 2002
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