If you’re feeling great, that means your treatment is working! So stick with it. 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. You may be able to reduce 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?
Abruptly stopping some RA drugs can cause health problems such as fatigue, weakness, and body aches. The Arthritis Foundation notes that people who stop taking their disease-modifying medications are likely to have a flare within four to eight weeks. But even if you slowly taper off the drugs, you open yourself up to the risk of a flare. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor on any medication changes.
Have you done all that you can to reduce medication side effects?
If your RA symptoms are under control but you're having side effects from medication, you might feel that the treatment is worse than the disease. 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 medications to reduce the problem. For example, sometimes doctors suggest another drug to reduce nausea or stomach acid if your RA medication causes upset stomach.
Are you keeping your doctor in the loop?
You may be tempted to skip doctor’s appointments or lab tests when you are feeling good. But, the Arthritis Foundation recommends at least yearly visits to the doctor when you have RA. Keep all lab, X-ray, and test appointments that help detect joint changes and monitor 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 may not be feeling so good. Or return a favor to friends or family members who helped you out on your bad days. Or attend a local arthritis support group to give hope to others. It's great that you feel good. Make the most of it -- while pacing yourself and getting adequate rest, of course.