Colorado Arthritis Center, P.C. - Rheumatology Colorado Arthritis Center, P.C. - Rheumatology : (303) 788-1312
Specialists in Rheumatology….from Arthritis to Osteoporosis
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Intravenous infusion therapy

Intravenous infusion therapy is the administration of drugs directly into the vein in fluid form, slowly over time. Intravenous route is chosen when the drug cannot be given by other routes or when it needs to reach the target site quickly as in the case of an emergency. Through intravenous route the drug can reach all parts of the body. Intravenous drug infusion is given in a number ofrheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, Lupus, Osteoporosis and others.

For treatment of arthritis, we can infuse medications to acutely reduce the pain and inflammation (such as a steroid) and to reduce disease activity to prevent further damage to the joints or other organ systems. Most of the second type are immunosuppressive drugs that act by suppressing the immune system thereby reducing damage to joints which is primarily due to an improper overactive immune response. The second type of drug needs to be given for several weeks, months or years to be effective.

A new class of the second type of drugs has been possible because of the advent of biotechnology and they are called biological response modifiers. They act by blocking the action of natural substances involved in causing the disease such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-6. They are given either subcutaneously or by intravenous infusion. However they do increase the chances of infection therefore they should not be given to people with recurrent infection, chronic infection or who have been exposed to tuberculosis or have conditions that already  put them at risk for infections. Check with your doctor if these medications can be helpful for your condition. If your doctor suggests  intravenous drug infusion:

  • Evaluate the possible risk and benefits of the prescribed drug therapy with your doctor
  • Check if any premedication needs to be given before the drug infusion.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothes before going for infusion.
  • Infusion is generally given for around two hours. Any unused infusion solution should not be reused.
  • Some side effects of infusion include fever, chills, chest pain, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, rash and itching. If any side effects do not go away and bothers you after the infusion tell the doctor.
  • Bring a book or magazine to sit and read.
  • Sit back and relax during the infusion.
  • After the infusion the dressing will be placed at the site.  If allergic to tape, please tell the staff.
  • Check for any medication that needs to be taken after infusion.

Biological drug therapy

Biological drug therapy, also known as biotherapy or immunotherapy are a new class of drugs that stimulate or repair the ability of the immune system to fight against any infection or disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in your joints.

Biologics are genetically engineered medications made from living organisms such as genes or proteins.  They interfere with the body’s inflammatory response by inhibiting specific components of the immune system that play a role in increasing or decreasing inflammation. These drugs are given to lessen inflammation by interfering with biologic substances that cause or worsen inflammation. Traditional drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis tend to suppress the entire immune system whereas biological drug therapy targets the particular components of the immune system. 

Biologics are used to treat patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis that has not responded to disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). When a biologic drug is used for treatment, it may be used alone or in combination with rheumatoid arthritis medications for greater effectiveness.

Biologics are given either by intravenous infusions or injections.  Some patients may complain of pain and localized rash at the site of injection. The most important side effect of these medications is an increased risk of infection including tuberculosis. Therefore before starting these medications a skin test for tuberculosis is usually done. Other side effects include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, fatigue, and appetite loss. People with multiple sclerosis and congestive heart failures should not take these medicines.
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