08:23 AM

Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain: When to Consider a Medication Change

CreakyJoints discusses what rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients can anticipate when considering a change to their treatment plan, according to experts including HSS rheumatologists Elizabeth Schulman, MD and Susan M. Goodman , MD

“Fortunately, we have many treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis,” said Dr. Schulman. “Unfortunately, we do not know which patient will respond to which medication, so it is often a thoughtful but ‘trial-and-error’ approach. Choosing the right medication needs to account for a patient’s symptoms, underlying health, comorbid conditions, and possible side effects. “Patients can have RA throughout their lifetime, so over a 50-year span of illness, there can be many therapy changes,” added Dr. Goodman.

If patients have a flare-up of RA that was previously controlled, it’s important to promptly seek the advice of your rheumatologist to decide which treatment plan is right for you, advised Dr. Schulman. “When a patient has had sustained disease activity over weeks or more, that indicates that the current regimen is failing and a different medication should be considered,” noted Dr. Goodman.” The medication your doctor recommends — whether it’s a new therapy or a higher dose or in addition to something you’re already taking — is very individualized. “Every single patient is different,” said Dr. Schulman. The treatment options to consider will depend on the progression of the disease, severity of flare, comorbidities, and a patient’s personal preferences. However, there is one common factor: “Treatment choices are always a balance between risks and benefits,” noted Dr. Goodman.

If you’re anxious about trying a new medication or are afraid you can’t afford it, don’t hesitate to let your rheumatologist know. “We want to understand all of your concerns surrounding your medication so we can help guide you and make recommendations,” said Dr. Schulman. “The goal is to get patients back to doing what they love to do and to restore their quality of life and function.”

Read the full article at CreakyJoints.org.