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ewriggs 11-18-2006 02:44 AM

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Dear FC'ers -

For over 30 years I've had fibromyalgia and migratory joint swelling and pain. Recently, however, my symptoms became a LOT worse, and I went to the Rheumatologist. Turns out that my rheumatoid serology has finally "converted" to positive, and I have the official diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

I've been dealing with the pain and fatigue that go along witih Fibro for a long time, but they are **nothing** compared to the pain and fatigue associated with RA.

As it is early in the process for me, my rheumatologist started me on Plaquenil right away. When that didn't have spectacular results after 6 or 8 weeks, he added Methotrexate. Things seem to be getting a bit better already.

I've been sent to physical therapy and occupational therapy (hand therapy). The PT told me that if I exercise in a therapeutically heated pool 3-4 times a week, I'd feel better. I have taken her advice to heart. Located a pool just 7 miles away that was reasonable to join. I have been in the pool 4-5 times a week for the past 5 weeks. And it is making a difference not only for the RA but for the fibro. The PT said it would help the fibro, too, and she was right!

Now, I just need a day-stretcher!

Does anyone out there in FC-land have RA? Do we need this thread?


ewriggs 11-18-2006 04:50 AM

Medications for Treating RA
Once diagnosed with RA, the MD will usually prescribe some medication(s) that will help reduce inflammation, reduce damage, and alter the body's response to the disease. This info is from the Arthritis Foundation website, which is our best "official" resource for info on every kind of arthritis.

The main categories of drugs used to treat RA are:

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): These drugs are used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. These are medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin and COX-2 inhibitors such as valdecoxib and celecoxib.

Analgesic Drugs: These drugs relieve pain, but donít necessarily have an effect on inflammation. Examples of these medications are acetaminophen, propoxyphene, mepeidine and morphine.

Glucocorticoids or Prednisone: These are prescribed in low maintenance doses to slow joint damage caused by inflammation.

Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs): These are used with NSAIDs and/or prednisone to slow joint destruction caused by RA over time. Examples of these drugs are methotrexate, injectable gold, penicillamine, azathioprine, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine and oral gold.

Biologic Response Modifiers: These drugs directly modify the immune system by inhibiting proteins called cytokines, which contribute to inflammation. Examples of these are etanercept, infliximab, adaliumumab and anakinra.

Protein-A Immuoadsorption Therapy: This is not a drug, but a therapy that filters your blood to remove antibodies and immune complexes that promote inflammation.

More to come later!


ewriggs 01-01-2007 07:54 AM

Well, I survived the first set of holidaze with joints intact!

Anyone "out there" on Rheumatrex (methotrexate)? I'm taking 7.5mg on Fridays since early October, and it leaves me nauseous all day Sat and Sun - still. I don't dare try to go to Church and receive Holy Communion - might "toss my cookies." I take Phenergan, but it isn't 100%. Neither is my stomach! Any suggestions for getting past this?


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~*~ "Courage is like a muscle, it's only strengthened by use."
~*~ Issadora - arthritis patient on another forum ~*~
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shepherdchild 01-08-2007 04:05 AM

Hello. My name is Teresa and I live in west ga. I am being tested and treated for RA and OA, but I'm not taking that medication. I'm currently taking Diclofen 75mg. tablets twice a day. If you have any siggestions I'df greatly appreciate them. As of now it is mainly in my hands and neck area. I just read one can't take aspirin while using Diclofen tabs. So I guess that leaves me to change to the non-aspirin Acetaminophen tabs. It has really reduced the pain and swelling that I have in those areas. I can once again crochet without feeling like my hands want to break while they move. So many changes have occured just in the few days of the new year and I just wander what all is in store. I wasn't given given any exercises to do just told to keep on doing with my hands. If you have any I'd apprecite the info, you may email me at [edited by head moderator. Please don't include email addresses in your posts. Exchange that kind of information through Private Messages.] would appresiate anyting on this type of arthritis and what I can ewxpect. I go back to the Dr. in a few days and have a pot load of questions for him. Thanks in advance. Shepherdchild

ewriggs 01-08-2007 05:01 AM

Hello, new neighbor!

Just an FYI - don't put your e-mail addy in a post to the general forums!! put it in a Private Mail Post (you can send those through your profile page).

RA is a little different for each person. Diclofen is one of the NSAIDS (non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs) and will reduce the inflammation associated with RA. However, it does not reduce the underlying disease the way some of the other treatments do. Your doctor probably will start you on some other drugs after getting basic blood work.

The underlying truism for RA is - "if you don't move it, you will lose it." So gentle daily exercise is a must!! However, I don't know how involved your joints are, so it would be inappropriate for me to suggest specific exercises. Ask your MD to refer you to 1) a rheumatologist (if he is not a board-certified rheumatologist) and 2) to a good physical therapy program. A rheumatologist is basically a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating autoimmune diseases (like RA and Lupus, and fibromyalgia, among other diseases). While many family practice docs are knowledgeable about RA, a rheumatologist knows all the latest things and all the "in's and out's" of the disease. I go to one who practices at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. It is a long drive for me, but it is very much worth it. He is very "aggressive" against RA, and has one of the very best outcome records in this part of the country. I also went to the physical therapy department at Piedmont, and received special exercises for my body and for my hands. I wear hand and wrist splints at night that were designed for my hands by the hand physical therapist. They will help prevent or at least delay the joint distortions so often seen in RA patients.

If you follow the links in my previous posts, you will find specific and very solid information about RA, how it affects your body and how it is treated. There are many treatments, many medications. It has been found, however, that by treating early with the "big guns" (powerful drugs that used to be saved for later in the disease), the RA is often slowed or even stopped in it's tracks (put into remission).

RA is a progressive destructive disease that causes permanent damage to joints. All joints in the body can be affected, but the ones most frequently affected are the hands, feet, knees, and shoulders. There is pain, and swelling of the joints, and severe fatigue associated with RA. in fact, the fatigue factor is the one I have most of the problems with. There are days I just can't "do" anything without napping 2-3 hours morning and night! That eats up a day!

I hope your doctor finds the drug combination that will work well for you. I'm glad the Diclofen (Voltaran) is helping you get through your days and continue your crocheting.

Today heaven and earth are united, for Christ is born. Today God has come to earth, and man ascends to heaven. Today God, who by nature cannot be seen, is seen in the flesh for our sake. Let us glorify Him!

ewriggs 01-08-2007 05:11 AM

Oops - misspelled Voltaren!


Today heaven and earth are united, for Christ is born. Today God has come to earth, and man ascends to heaven. Today God, who by nature cannot be seen, is seen in the flesh for our sake. Let us glorify Him!

shepherdchild 01-08-2007 11:01 AM

Well, my medication is being chnaged because I begin itching and welping up. Thant for the input about my addy, will remeber that from now on. I am basically new to posting and being on these type web sites and still learning the rops sp thanks again for the advice. I go for am MRI on my neck tomorrow, and to see the Orthopedic who is treating me for this. HE may refer me to a specialist after receives the blood work, if not I amy ask, but I'd liketo find out what he will do as for as phy. therapy is concerned first. thanks again enjoyed hearing from you and hope to again.

ewriggs 01-08-2007 02:24 PM

Glad to be helpful to you! Please post again if you have other questions. I can always find answers to health questions!


Today the virgin, bringeth forth the Transcendant One!
And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One!
Angels and shepherds glorify Him!
The Wise Men journey with the Star!
Since for our sake the Pre-Eternal God is born
As a little Child!

bluebird 01-13-2007 12:44 PM

Hi! Remember me, Elizabeth?

My dd who is 16 has JRA. She has it in her feet, knees, hips, hands, fingers and shoulder joints. She tried the mexotrate (sp) for six months but the side effects were not worth it for her. She has been on Plaquenil for about 18 months. Wow.... it is working for her. She is now able to start excersing. She is walking on her treadmill, belly dancing and yoga.

We have also found that corn sets off her flares. Her diet is basicly corn free.

ewriggs 01-17-2007 01:11 PM

Hi Connie -

How great that the Plaquenil is working so well for your DD!! I'm on both Plaquenil and Methotrexate and just had a small to moderate flare in my hands and feet. So what works for one won't always work for another. Same with diet. I don't have any food sensitivities that I can identify. So I may try an elimination diet when things settle down a bit. The doc wants me to stay on this regimen through March, then reassess how well it's doing.
There is a reason there are so many different medications and combinations of those medications and different dosages of them. That's because we all respond to different things. I'm not yet on the biologicals like Humira or Embril or Remicade, etc. But if I don't respond well to the current regimen, one of these may be added or substituted.
It is good to try dietary modifications, thogh, and see if they work. For many, a totally vegan or even a macrobiotic diet seems to help. I'm one of those who believe if you find something that works so that you can function, do it!! :-D :grinning:
Since I have fibromyalgia, too, it is sometimes hard to figure out which is flaring. I've developed a self-assessment scale that I'm using daily, and it seems to to help me tell the difference between the fibro and the RA flares.
I'm not ready to test it with other people, yet, but in about 6 or 8 months, and some more tweaking of it, I'll be ready to ask people to help me test it. If it works well for them, I'll go to a controlled study (I hope) in which people use either my system or another system or no system. Then track which seem to be most accepted and which patients think are most accurate. Will have to get several MDs to test it, too. We'll see.
Thanks for posting. So glad your DD is doing well with her JRA!


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~*~ A good attitude is like Kudzu - it spreads. ~*~
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