If you're reading this, you've probably just been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. You're also probably reeling, more than a little relieved to finally have an answer and so scared you want to curl into a ball under the covers. MyRACentral is here to help you through the adjustment, answer your questions and give you support. This post answers some common questions for people who have a new diagnosis and will get you started on getting a handle on life with RA. To learn more about our site, check out the Welcome tour of who we are and what we do.
Knowledge Is Power
Feeling lost and not in control is normal, but remember that you have RA, it doesn't have you. One of the best ways of starting to feel more in control is to know more about your disease, so check out our area about the basics of RA. Finding a good rheumatologist is essential and it's a good idea to come prepared to your appointments. Your doctor is an important member of your team, but it's your body and your life and that means you are the team leader - reading about how to be a good advocate for yourself can help make you more comfortable with being in charge. You also need to know about more than just your disease itself and The First Year with Rheumatoid Arthritis is an excellent book that can help you get back on track.
Medication Is Your Friend
After a diagnosis of chronic illness, we instinctively want to get better. That means eating healthy, getting exercise and not putting any chemicals in our bodies, so no drugs, right? Not so when you have RA - at least about the drugs. It's essential to get the disease suppressed as soon as possible to protect your joints from the kind of damage that can affect your mobility in the future. RA used to come with the prognosis of inevitable deformity and disability, but that has changed. About 10 years ago, Biologic medications came on the market and they have drastically changed the prognosis. It is now possible for most people with RA to lead a pretty normal life and to significantly delay or even prevent damaged joints.
There are a number of medications used to treat RA, both to suppress the disease and to control symptoms of inflammation and pain. People react differently to medication - what works well for some might not work for you and vice versa, so it can take a while to find the right drug. When considering the pros and cons of a medication, you have to think about what it's worth to you to protect your body and your life from the damage that can be caused by RA. Researching the meds suggested by your rheumatologist means reading about side effects and that can be enough to turn your hair white. Keep in mind that drug companies have to list all possible side effects, but that most people experience fairly minor ones that can be managed with some easy tips.
At this time, Western allopathic medication are the best choice for controlling your disease, but many people with RA also use alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, massage, naturopathic medicine and vitamins and supplements.