Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is there a way to treat my rheumatoid arthritis without so much prescription medicine?"
I'm a 38 year old mother who was just recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I will likely be on arthritis medicine for the rest of my life. I'm concerned about the long term effects of the meds. I am looking for alternative methods I might ask the rheumatologist when I go for my first visit later this month. The med I'm currently on is Arthrotec.
As you know, rheumatoid arthritis can be very painful and uncomfortable on the joints. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and ultimately degradation of the joints if not well controlled. The degree of arthritis varies from patient to patient. While many patients may do well with simple non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as the one contained in Arthrotec, some patients will require more powerful drugs. When the disease flares, patients may require steroids such as Prednisone to help control symptoms. Rheumatologists are aware of the long-term effects of steroids, such as increased risk of osteoporosis and weight gain, and will try to minimize their use. There are a number of non-steroidal agents (such as methotrexate) that work very well to control symptoms, spare patients from the long term exposure to steroids, and have minimal side effects (that can be monitored with routine blood work every 6-12 months).
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