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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can make even simple tasks challenging. Even when you do everything right, you may still have pain and stiffness some days. Treatment takes time and often needs a bit of fine-tuning. It helps if you ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I take my RA medications on time every time?

It's important to take your medicine at the same time each day. This helps you keep a constant, effective level of medicine in your body. Skipping doses can trigger a flare.

If you’ve just started taking disease-modifying medicine such as methotrexate, keep in mind that it may take weeks or even months to feel the full benefits. Try to be patient and give the medicines a chance to really work.

If you have an upset stomach or other side effects, call your doctor. There are often things you can do to ease side effects.

2. Have I asked my doctor if I’m on the right medicines?

If they used to work and don’t seem to help anymore, ask your doctor if you need to make a change. Some disease-modifying drugs may become less effective with time.

Your doctor may suggest a different prescription or add another type of drug, such as a “biologic” drug, to your treatment.

3. Do I keep up with my regular checkups?

The medications used to treat RA can weaken your body’s immune system. This helps slow down the disease, but it can make infections more likely, as well as liver and kidney problems.

You need regular checkups and blood tests to check on how RA affects your body. These tests help your doctor reduce side effects of your medications and know if your treatment needs adjustment.

4. Have I tried alternative remedies for pain?

Studies show that meditation and biofeedback lower pain for some people and help them handle it better. Massage may help lessen your pain and stiffness and relieve stress. Acupuncture has also been shown to curb pain in other conditions, although it's not well researched for RA. These methods may not work for everyone, and it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first, especially if you want to take any herbs or supplements, because some could affect your medications.

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Want to take better care of yourself? See how many things you can check off the list in the next 30 days!

I ordered salmon instead of a burger when I went out to eat today.

I took a walk 5 days this week.

I didn't let my RA stop me from having fun today.

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You Are Not Alone

  • 1.3 million Americans are living with RA.
  • 75% of people with RA are women.
  • 3 in 5 people with RA try to stay active.
  • 91% of people with RA are able to keep working.
  • 3 in 5 patients are satisfied with their doctors.
  • 80% say they hope for new, innovative treatments.
  • 75% want to feel better in 3 months of treatment.
  • 80% want treatment to resume full social lives.
  • 2 out of 3 say friends don't understand their RA.
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