Learn More About Arthritis Research Studies

What Are Arthritis Research Studies Clinical Trials?

Arthritis is a condition in which there is inflammation or swelling of joints and connective tissues throughout the body. The inflammation may coexist with structural damage as well. The term “arthritis” describes more than 100 different arthritis and rheumatic diseases that involve pain and stiffness in the joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, or bones.

Arthritis is a chronic disease, and millions of people in America suffer from some form of arthritis. The disease is more prevalent in women as compared to men. Even though arthritis is most often linked to old age, it can affect people of any age group.

There are many common types of arthritis, and the following are some of them.

Arthritis Research Studies

Osteoarthritis (OA)

It is the most common form of arthritis affecting weight-bearing joints, especially the hip, knee, and spine. In OA, the cartilage or the coating at the end of bones begins to break down, which exposes the underlying bone. The result is a narrowing of the joint space, as OA can cause bone spurs, overgrowth, and reduced function.

These changes begin to worsen over time, which is why it is said that OA most commonly occurs in people as they age.

OA causes pain and stiffness, decreased flexibility and range of motion, and swelling. The reduced friction can even lead to disability in patients, so much so that they can no longer perform everyday tasks or regular work.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is not caused by the wear and tear of joints. Rather it is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease of the joints. The immune system attacks healthy cells of the joints, leading to swelling and inflammation in the affected parts.

At any point in life, the body’s immune system can attack the joints, usually many at a time. The most common type of joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis is in the knees, wrists, and hands. The damage to the lining of joints leads to chronic pain, deformity, and unsteadiness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis can also affect other body tissues, such as the lungs, eyes, and heart.


Gout is another type of inflammatory arthritis that often starts from the big toe, affecting one joint at a time. The problem arises due to uric acid crystals deposition in small joints, causing pain and inflammation.

The symptoms of gout may come and go, a process known as remission. There are times when the patient feels extreme pain as symptoms worsen, known as flares. Other times there are no symptoms, or if present, they are under control.

Gout is not curable, but certain medications and therapies allow the patient to manage it.


Lupus is another inflammatory and autoimmune disease affecting many joints and other body systems such as skin, blood cells, kidneys, heart, brain, and lungs.

The difference between lupus and RA is that lupus might affect internal organs and cause life-threatening complications for the patients.

Lupus is a chronic which has no cure. Though it is not an arthritis form, it includes arthritis as one of its symptoms. The disease can be managed to prevent flares and other health problems, but it doesn’t go away entirely.

The inflammatory markers associated with arthritis are:

  • ESR: Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • CRP: C-reactive protein level.

Arthritis research studies and clinical trials determine how arthritis symptoms can be effectively managed and how the disease is treated. The research studies evaluate the response of markers, the etiology of the disease, and pathogenesis and eliminate the gaps that provide hindrances in understanding the disease mechanism.

There are several different arthritis types, which is why their management and physical evaluation differs from each other. Laboratory tests and radiographs.

Why Is Arthritis Being Studied Through Clinical Trials?

It is estimated that almost 58.5 million adults in the USA have arthritis. The number is expected to grow as the population gets older. Almost 25.7 million adults are suffering from limited activities because they cannot efficiently perform daily tasks due to arthritis.

A clinical trial can help medical researchers find new drugs, surgical procedures, and preventative measures to improve the treatment of arthritis. The new arthritis treatments are researched in the lab, after which they are tested on a group of people. If the research leads to promising results, then the therapy moves toward a larger clinical trial.

What Are the Types of Treatments Available for Arthritis?

Treatment of arthritis depends upon the age, symptoms, and general health of the patient. There are different types of arthritis, and every form of the disease has a different management plan, which is tailored by the healthcare provider according to individual patients.

Arthritis Treatment

Arthritis has no cure, only treatment to limit the pain and inflammation. There are different treatment plans available to provide short-term or long-term relief.

  • Pain-relieving medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, and NSAIDs are prescribed for short-term relief from inflammation and pain.
  • Heat and cold therapy are beneficial in reducing swelling and pain associated with it.
  • A massage brings warmth and improves blood flow to the painful muscles.
  • Splints and Orthoses are used by patients who have rheumatoid arthritis to decrease swelling and pain and reduce the chances of deformity.
  • TENS provides both short-term and long-term pain relief by sending mild electrical pulses that block nerve signals and change the pain perception of the patient’s brain.

Long-term medications and therapies are also available to stop arthritis from worsening and leading to deformities.

  • DMARDs, or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, slow down the arthritis progress and eases the symptoms, including pain and inflammation. DMARDs suppress the overactive immune system in the long run, which is why the medications take weeks or months to provide relief. The DMARDs medications commonly used are methotrexate, sulfasalazine hydroxychloroquine, etc.
  • Hyaluronic acid therapy, or Viscosupplementation, is another effective treatment that involves injecting thick hyaluronic acid into the inflamed joint. This fluid helps in reducing pain and swelling, thus relieving the patient of its symptoms.
  • Orthopedic surgery is sometimes performed to manage osteoarthritis to prevent the disease from progressing toward joint destruction and functional loss.

What Are Some Recent Breakthrough Clinical Trials for arthritis research studies?

Thanks to advanced clinical trials and arthritis research studies, various medications and treatment options are currently available for patients who have arthritis. The discovery of DMARDs has drastically changed the landscape of rheumatoid arthritis care, and many other clinical trials are underway that can lead to innovative treatments and breakthrough arthritis research studies.

2012: Janus kinase inhibitors (JAKi) emerged as FDA-approved revolutionary oral targeted disease-modifying drugs. These drugs are believed to replace conventional and biological DMARDs. Tofacitinib, upadacitinib, and baricitinib have become the core focus of arthritis research studies.

These drugs have become widely available, and their discovery is a significant hallmark as they are truly the first effective and long-term oral biologic option for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The discovery of this small molecule treatment has resulted in a novel targeted therapy approach and a drug having a low molecular mass that enables it to pass the lipid bilayer.

2012: Tofacitinib was approved by the FDA as the first JAK inhibitor for treating moderate to severe Rheumatoid arthritis. This drug showed efficacy and safety, which was compared to DMARDs. Tofacitinib was a better oral treatment option for those patients who were showing intolerance to methotrexate.

2013: Methotrexate (MTX) became the most popular treatment drug for rheumatoid arthritis. It emerged as a mainstay for inflammatory arthritis treatment as the drug reduces swelling and pain and slows disease progression and joint damage.

It is one of the most effective medications and is well-tolerated by the body. MTX therapy has proven to be a cornerstone for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

2018: Baricitinib became the second JAK inhibitor approved by the FDA for the treatment of moderate to severe RA. Clinical trials demonstrated that Baricitinib showed effectiveness in patients who had an inadequate response to conventional and biological DMARDs. This is the second JAKi proven effective for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

2020: FDA approves three non-prescription drugs through an (Rx)-to-OTC switch. The drugs in question are diclofenac sodium topical gel, 1% for temporary relief from arthritis pain and inflammation, and olopatadine HCl ophthalmic solution once or twice daily for the relief of itchy eyes due to pollen or other substances. This approval of non-prescription drugs will improve how people can treat their joint pain and easily access these drugs for safe and effective self-medication.

2021: Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) treatment is under clinical trials and evaluated for musculoskeletal disease treatments. The transcutaneous VNS treatment has been shown to reduce inflammatory disease activity since the vagus nerve is associated with analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

However, further investigation is still needed regarding the treatment duration, setting of stimulation, and route of stimulation.

Who Are Some of the Key Opinion Leaders / Researchers / Institutions Conducting Arthritis Research Studies and Clinical Trial Research?

Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center

The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center specializes in inflammatory arthritis care and research studies through a team of the world’s leading experts. The main focus of research is targeted at the different types of arthritis, their clinical care, understanding of causes, and effective treatment approaches.

The team includes medical assistants, clinical nurses, and clinical psychologists who are concerned with the lifestyle, pain, and disease patterns of arthritis patients.

Arthritis Foundation

The Arthritis Foundation is a large nonprofit organization that aims to research towards prevention, treatment, and control of arthritis, which is one of the leading causes of disabilities in the USA.

The Arthritis Foundation collaborates with research institutions and scientists to make significant progress in discovering cures and treatments for arthritis. The foundation also partners with Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA) for funding and advancement in the research of Juvenile arthritis.

NYU Langone’s Division of Rheumatology

NYU Langone’s Division of Rheumatology pursues clinical research on rheumatoid arthritis by understanding the inflammatory and autoimmune responses of the disease to improve patient care and treatment outcomes.

The Division of Rheumatology Research also targets other areas related to arthritis, such as gout, pregnancy and rheumatic diseases, and inflammatory bowel disease-related spondyloarthritis.