Guidelines for the management of rheumatoid arthritis. American College of Rheumatology Ad Hoc Committee on Clinical Guidelines

Arthritis Rheum. 1996 May;39(5):713-22.


RA is a chronic progressive polyarthritis (with varying systemic features) associated with substantial disability and economic losses. Successful treatment to limit joint damage and functional loss requires early diagnosis and timely initiation of disease-modifying agents. The goal of treatment is to arrest the disease and to achieve remission. Although remission rarely occurs, patients may still benefit from pharmacologic, nonpharmacologic, and if necessary, surgical interventions. Optimal longitudinal treatment requires comprehensive coordinated care and the expertise of a number of providers. Essential components of management include 1) establishment of the diagnosis of RA (versus other forms of polyarthritis), 2) systematic and regular evaluation of disease activity, 3) patient education/rehabilitation interventions, and initial treatment with NSAIDs, 4) use of DMARDs, 5) possible use of local or low-dose oral glucocorticoids, 6) minimization of the impact on the individual's function, 7) assessment of the adequacy of the treatment program, and 8) general health maintenance.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / surgery
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Rheumatology / methods


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antirheumatic Agents