If you feel well, that means your treatment is working. Keep it up!
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition. Treatment can keep your symptoms under control and give you more good days. Some people may be able to cut down on how much medicine they take with their doctor’s help.
When was your last RA flare?
Studies show that people who stop their RA medicine are likely to have a flare of symptoms 4 to 8 weeks later. If your disease becomes active, you are more likely to get permanent joint damage.
Your doctor will first want to know how long it's been since you had any symptoms, plus do some tests. If everything looks great, your doctor may slowly lower the dose of your medications, usually starting with any NSAID pain reliever you may take (like aspirin or ibuprofen).
You want to keep a constant and effective level of your RA drugs in your system, so if you are able to cut back on your medicine, it would be a slow change. It helps if you take your medicine at the same time every day.
Do you have any trouble with side effects from your RA medications?
If so, tell your doctor about those side effects. She may be able to adjust your medications.
For example, many drugs used to treat RA can cause upset stomach. To help, your doctor may suggest that you change the time of day you take the drug, or tell you to take it with food. Sometimes doctors recommend that you take medicine to reduce nausea and stomach acid.
Do you use reminders to help you take medicine on schedule?
Sometimes when we feel better and get busy, we forget to take the medications that helped us feel better in the first place. See if any of these simple tips would make life with RA easier for you.
- Use a pillbox to track which medicines to take and when to take them.
- Pair your drugs with a daily event -- like brushing your teeth or breakfast -- so that you take them at the same time every day.
- Program a reminder alarm in your cell phone, computer, or digital watch.
- When you refill your prescriptions, make a note on your calendar when to order the next refill so you don’t run out.