09:54 AM

5 Questions People With Rheumatoid Arthritis Should Ask Their Doctors

SELF Magazine discusses suggested questions for patients to ask their doctors following a diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to experts including HSS rheumatologist Elizabeth Schulman, MD.

Treatment side effects vary depending on the type of medication being taken, and Dr. Schulman explained if you’ve experienced infections in the past, this will be a consideration when determining which treatment is best for you. “Overall, the medications that treat rheumatoid arthritis are aimed to bring down the inflammation that's overactive in the body,” she said. “So with that comes, oftentimes, an increased risk for infections.”

Following an RA diagnosis patients can anticipate their physician will want to see them every few months for blood work and to talk about their symptoms. The frequent check-ins allow physicians to reevaluate their patient’s condition (e.g., making sure medication is working and that side effects are manageable), as well as for patients to be included in their treatment decisions. “An overarching principle in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is that this is really a shared decision making between the patient and the physician,” cited Dr. Schulman. It’s important to make sure that the treatment feels comfortable to you and that you understand the physician is going to do their best to minimize all possible side effects, she added.

In addition to starting medication, a number of lifestyle modifications are important in managing RA (e.g., stress management, prioritizing mental health, getting enough sleep at night, etc.). Newly diagnosed RA patients are often unsure if they should be partaking in exercise, however Dr. Schulman advised to consider it. Depending on how advanced your disease is, you may need to work with a physical therapist or trainer to find a program that works for you, “but we highly recommend a routine exercise program, both for cardiovascular health and joint health, and for mental health,” she noted.

Read the full article at Self.com.