To keep up those good results, you need to stick with your treatment. The course of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is hard to predict. Symptoms can come and go. You may have times in your life when joint pain goes away on its own for a while. But that doesn’t mean you should stop treatment. Talk to your doctor about any medication change. She may be able to lower the dose, but it's not likely your doctor will want you to stop taking your RA medications altogether.
Did you know that stopping RA medications can trigger a flare?
Suddenly stopping some RA drugs can cause health problems such as fatigue, weakness, and body aches. The Arthritis Foundation notes that people who halt the RA drugs called DMARDs are likely to have a flare within 4 to 8 weeks. But even if you slowly taper off your medicine, you could have a flare. So be sure to work with your doctor on any medication changes.
Have you done all that you can to curb medication side effects?
If your RA symptoms are under control but you have side effects from medication, you might question whether it’s worth it. It's easy to forget about the benefits of medications when you feel good. Talk to your doctor if you have any side effects, no matter how minor they may seem. Your doctor may be able to make minor changes to your plan to reduce the problem. For example, sometimes doctors suggest another drug to reduce nausea or stomach acid if your RA medicine causes upset stomach.
Do you keep your doctor in the loop?
You may be tempted to skip doctor’s appointments or lab tests when you feel well. But the Arthritis Foundation recommends at least yearly visits to the doctor when you have RA. Keep all lab, X-ray, and test appointments, too. They look for changes in your joints and check on the effects of your RA drugs in your body.
Do you take full advantage of feeling good?
Enjoy your pain-free time and pay it forward. Help others with RA who are having a rough time. Or return a favor to friends or family members who helped you out on your bad days. Or go to a meeting of a local arthritis support group to give hope to others. It's great that you feel good. Make the most of it, and be sure to pace yourself and get enough rest.