Is Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Working?
Gina Battaglia | Dec 19, 2017
- 0 No difficulty
- 1 Some difficulty
- 2 Much difficulty
- 3 Unable to manage
Over the past week, how difficult has it been for you to bathe or shower and dress yourself?
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by joint pain and weakness and can interfere with activities of daily living that require reaching movements, such as shampooing in the shower or pulling on a shirt over your head. If you're challenged by typical showering and dressing activities, it can be a sign that your RA may not be managed as well as it could be.
Over the past week, how difficult has it been for you to stand up from a straight chair or climb in or out of bed?
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint pain and weakness in lower-extremity joints, such as the knees, that can make rising from a chair or getting in or out of bed painful and difficult. Difficulty with rising from a chair or getting into or out of bed can indicate that management of your RA is suboptimal.
Over the past week, have you had trouble feeding yourself (e.g., cutting meat, lifting a full glass to your mouth, or opening a new milk carton)?
Difficulty performing tasks related to eating and food preparation, such as cutting meat, lifting a full glass, or opening a milk carton, may indicate that your rheumatoid arthritis is not being properly managed. Consider talking with your doctor about changing management strategies if you're having a tough time performing these daily activities.
Are you able to walk two miles on flat ground?
Walking on flat ground involves repeated movement of the joints in your lower extremities. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints that interferes with walking for prolonged periods of time. An integrated approach of pharmacologic treatment (prescription or non-prescription medications) and non-drug treatments (e.g., exercise, diet, massage, counseling, stress reduction, and physical therapy) might help you ease these symptoms.
Are you able to walk up five steps?
Walking up steps requires more range of motion at the knee joint than level walking. Rheumatoid arthritis can make your knee joints stiff and painful, which makes stair-climbing a challenge.
In how many joints do you experience pain and/or swelling? Be sure to count each joint as an individual entity (e.g., left and right knees are considered two affected joints, and the knuckle and joints in the middle of each finger should be counted separately).
The number of joints affected by pain and/or swelling is an indicator that physicians often use to help assess the level of rheumatoid arthritis disease activity. The more joints affected, the more severe the rheumatoid arthritis.
Over the past week, how difficult has it been to pick up items from the floor?
Picking up items from the floor requires bending your lower extremity joints as you kneel and stand, as well as bending the joints in your hands and wrists as you grasp an item. Pain, stiffness, and/or swelling that makes it difficult or impossible to do this task can indicate that you may need a different RA treatment and management plan.
Do you use any aids or assistive devices or need help from another person to perform everyday activities? Aids or devices may include a cane, crutches, walker, wheelchair, special utensils, special chairs, button hooks, jar opener, bathtub bar, or long-handled appliances.
The need for assistance from devices or another person to perform everyday activities can indicate suboptimal management or progression of your rheumatoid arthritis. Consider talking with your doctor to determine whether incorporating new treatments, such as physical therapy, could make it easier for you to manage daily movements and tasks.
Over the past week, how frequently have you felt anxiety, nervousness, or depression related to your rheumatoid arthritis?
Anxiety, nervousness, or depression related to your rheumatoid arthritis may indicate that you feel overwhelmed with managing your condition and/or that your current management plan is not suiting your needs. Talking with your provider about ways to adjust your management plan and/or a referral to a mental health provider may give you confidence that you can manage your treatment effectively.
Over the past week, how much pain have you had?
Moderate or severe pain related to your rheumatoid arthritis is an indicator that treatment plan may not be working as well as it could. It can take some time for nonbiologic and biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (such as leflunomide, sulfasalazine, rituximab, and methotrexate) to have a full effect. Therefore, you may need other pain-relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen, to reduce pain while waiting for the antirheumatic drugs to take effect.