If I Feel Great, Can I Go Off My RA Medication?

To keep up those good results, you need to stick with your treatment. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can come and go, and it's sometimes hard to predict when a flare will hit.

There may be times when your joint pain goes away on its own for a while. But that doesn’t mean you should stop your meds. Always talk to your doctor. He may be able to lower your dose, but it's not likely he'll want you to quit altogether.

Here are some things to think about if you're considering a treatment tweak:

Did you know you can trigger a flare if you stop your RA drugs?

When you quit meds suddenly, you can get problems such as fatigue, weakness, and body aches.

The Arthritis Foundation says people who halt RA drugs called DMARDs are likely to have a flare within 4 to 8 weeks. Even if you slowly taper off your medicine, your symptoms can still spike. So, be sure to work with your doctor on any tweaks to your medication.

Have you done all that you can to curb drug 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 medicine when you feel good.

Talk to your doctor if your treatment causes you problems, no matter how minor they may seem. He may be able to make minor changes that can help. For example, sometimes doctors suggest you add another drug to reduce nausea or stomach acid if that's an issue.

Do you keep your doctor in the loop?

You may be tempted to skip appointments with him when you feel well. But the Arthritis Foundation suggests you get a checkup at least once a year. Keep up with all lab, X-ray, and test appointments, too. They track changes in your joints and check on the effects of 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 aren't feeling as well. 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.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on May 20, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Arthritis Today: "If in Remission, Can I Stop Medication?;" "Why Skipping Medications Is a Bad Idea;" "Side Effects of RA Medications;"  "Solutions to Medication Side Effects;" and “Quality Measurements for Rheumatoid Arthritis." 

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