Assessing your RA treatment
When it comes to a disease like RA, finding the right treatment can make a difference. And since RA can present itself differently in every person who has the disease, treatment will vary as well.
There are several different medications available for RA. Some come in pill form and may be used for pain relief, to reduce inflammation or to modify the course of the disease. Other powerful treatments are given by injection or infusion and are generally used in more resistant or severe disease.
The type that's right for you will depend on your medical history, the severity of your condition, the predicted course your RA may take, and your personal needs and lifestyle in general. Your rheumatologist will take all of this into consideration when prescribing treatment, which is why good communication with your doctor is so important.
Keep in mind that finding a treatment that best suits your needs may be a process of trial and error. You may be taking medication already, and it may not work as well as it used to. Or you may find that one treatment didn't give you adequate results in the first place. While it’s normal to feel frustrated, don't give up hope.
Work with your doctor, and communicate how you're feeling, making sure to discuss symptoms, drug side effects, and any other details that concern you. This will give the rheumatologist the information he or she needs to assess your condition, adjust your medications, and continue to aim for the best relief possible.
So how do you know if it's time to consider a new treatment for RA? First, consider the general goals for RA treatment: to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, prevent further joint damage, and improve quality of life. Then, start thinking about answers to questions like:
- Do you still experience pain with your current treatment?
- How do you feel now, both physically and emotionally, compared to when you first started your current medication?
- Do you still experience pain, and do you think you could be getting more relief?
- Have you regained the ability to perform everyday tasks that may have become difficult since you first starting experiencing symptoms?
If your answers to such questions concern you, it may be time to talk to your rheumatologist about other potential treatment option. New steps forward are being made in RA medications all the time. The keys to finding the one that is right for you are careful monitoring of your condition and treatment and effective communication with your doctor.
Is your current RA treatment working?
You know how painful rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be. Finding the right medication may be the key to feeling better. Some people respond well to a medication they've been prescribed and notice dramatic improvements in their symptoms. Unfortunately, for some other people, it's possible that a medication that used to work well might become less effective as time goes on. They may even discover it doesn't really work at all.
The following are the general goals for RA treatment. Keep these goals in mind as you assess how well your treatment is working:
- Relieve pain
- Reduce inflammation
- Prevent joint damage
- Improve ability to accomplish everyday tasks
It may also help to reflect on how you have been feeling since your last discussion with the rheumatologist about your treatment. The following questions can serve as starting points:
- How do you feel now, both physically and emotionally, compared to when you first started taking your current medication?
- How often do you experience RA pain compared to when you first started taking your current medication?
- Have you regained the ability to perform everyday tasks (eg, button a shirt, turn a doorknob, climb stairs) that may have become difficult since you first starting experiencing symptoms?
If you're not happy with the answers to these questions, or if you're just not sure, it may be time to discuss other treatment options with your doctor. There are many medications available today for RA, with exciting advances being made all the time. It's up to you, with the help of your rheumatologist, to find the treatment that is right for you, your condition and your lifestyle.
So take some time to think about your current RA medication. If you would like to be getting more relief, talk to your rheumatologist.
The Rheumatoid Arthritis Profile Sheet, or R.A.P. Sheet, is an interactive tool that can help you talk to your doctor about your symptoms and how well your current treatment is working.
This diary will help you track your symptoms over time. RA can progress very slowly, so it might be helpful to have a record of how you were feeling. This way, you and your doctor can get a better understanding of how you're managing your condition.
Is your RA treatment doing enough?
Find out new, exciting information about treatment options.
Get tough on RA
Knowing how to cope when RA gets tough can help you get through difficult times.
Glossary Of Terms
biologic DMARD(disease modifying antirheumatic drug)
The newest type of medicine to treat the signs and symptoms of RA. More...
Occurs when the immune system defends the body against harmful events. More...
A doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the joints. More...