Breakthrough treatment for rheumatoid arthritis patients

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Researchers at the Royal Adelaide Hospital have found that fish oil can help to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Head of the Royal Adelaide Hospital Rheumatology Unit, Professor Susanna Proudman, said fish oil as a complementary therapy for rheumatoid arthritis greatly benefits treatment by reducing joint pain, swelling and the need for anti-inflammatory drugs.

“Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the lining of joints, causing swelling and pain, and making simple tasks a lot harder for sufferers,” Professor Proudman said.  

“Our study involved treating patients with a dose of anti-inflammatory fish oil or a control oil, leading to a breakthrough discovery about the benefits of fish oil in controlling the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

“We found patients did not need many of the therapies normally used to manage the disease, and a treatment method of three rheumatoid arthritis tablets and fish oil supplements successfully helps patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis enter remission.  

“This autoimmune disease can affect people of any age, and it is important that people are aware of the symptoms of stiff and swollen joints and should visit their doctor if they have any concerns.”

Patient, Laura Maiolo, has benefitted from treatment and research at the RAH and is now in remission with swelling in her joints lessened.

“I found out I suffered from rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 21 and was struggling with every day activities such as turning on taps, doing up buttons, kneeling down and getting back up,” Ms Maiolo said.

“It was a bit of a shock to hear my diagnosis as I had never heard of anyone my age who had it, and I realised things that never used to be difficult would affect me for the rest of my life.

“Now, seven years on, my condition has improved dramatically and I find everyday tasks a lot easier to manage and it is all thanks to the early treatment from the Rheumatology Unit at the RAH.”

Professor Proudman will speak about her research at the Behind the Microscope public event at 5.30 pm on Wednesday 16 October.

The series of Behind the Microscope events aim to connect the public with the outstanding work of the best and brightest medical researchers at the RAH. For more information, visit RAH Research Fund.