Newly Diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Use what I've learned about RA along my journey to gain comfort with this disease, and remember I am not a medical professional :)
Getting diagnosed can be a very scary and overwhelming process. When I was referred to my Rheumatologist I was very overwhelmed. I was finally looking forward to figuring out why I was always in pain, because no doctor was taking me seriously. I was asked to twist and bend in all different directions, along with many many questions asked.
The initial appointment included lab work. I had 15 different vials of blood taken that day. A lot of the lab work taken, I had no idea what any of it meant. I was able to look into some of my test and know that my 'inflammation' levels were elevated. I was nervous to go to my follow up appointment.
Were the diagnoses was 'Rheumatoid Arthritis'
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? Many people don't realize it's actually an auto immune disease. This disease is where the immune system attacks the joints in the body, thus creating more inflammation than there should be. The inflammation causes increased pain, stiffness, and swelling in the individual.
If untreated the inflammation can cause more problem then good, causing destruction on the cartilage as well, and eventually damaging the bones. The most common joints affected are the hands, feet, wrist, elbows, knees, and ankles. However, all and other joints can be affected. A lot of us suffering from RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) also struggle with pain in our backs, hips, and neck. There are some who also struggle with RA affecting their eyes.
RA doesn't always just stop with the joints, the inflammation can start damaging the heart and lung systems of our bodies as well.
I am currently suffering from Joint Edema in my hip right now. There is fluid build up in my hip and the joint is swelling and starting to deform. This Edema can occurr throughout any joint in the body.
Symptoms of RA
There are many different symptoms of RA, and everyone experiences these differently. The most common ones that people experience are joint pains- these are in the hands, wrist, feet, knees, elbows, and ankles. Again, people also experience these pains in their backs, necks, and hips too.
Many RA patients will also struggle with chronic fatigue. I am not sure why we are so tired- my personal opinion was because we don't sleep very well at night. The pain tends to keep us up. My doctor has told me that inflammation can hurt worse at night- which is why sleeping can be so hard.
Another symptom RA patients can struggle with can be headaches. I seem to struggle with headaches frequently, due to my neck pain. Everything in the body is all very much connected, and you never realize it until you are in so much pain and trying to fix it.
Stiffness is very common- especially when waking up in the morning. On average it will take an RA patient a few hours in the morning to adjust from the stiffness. And of course swelling is another big thing that we suffer with. Girls will notice this a lot with their hands because we cannot get our rings off! There have even been those who have needed to get their rings cut off! Ouch! :(
Aside from the swelling, pain, and stiffness, RA individuals can develop nodules on their joints as well. These can become very painful and might require a doctor's help to remove.
Symptoms seem to be never ending for us.
Treatment (My treatment, One of many)
There can be many different treatments for RA. Some people choose to tackle RA with an anti-inflammatory diet. This is not something I have tried, but a lot of people have had success with this, changing the way you eat can help improve you on the inside.
I, have chosen to be treated with medications, along with a lot of individuals. The medications can be very scary, which is why a lot of RA patients do not want to dabble in them. I admit I was very scared to start treatment because of the medications. I spent a lot of hours googling and researching the medication, even asking people in a support group how they handled the medication. I was so glad I had found multiple people to ask because I needed someone to tell me that things were going to be okay.
I take folic acid daily. I was first put on prednisone - only to use until the main medication kicked in, which was Methotrexate. I was so scared to start the Methotrexate, which you will find a lot of patients will abbreviate into MTX. If you look up this medication you will see that it has been used to treat cancer, very intimidating. I have been on this medication since January, and have been doing just fine. However, I am not sure it is working. MTX is only taken 1 day of the week, I take them on Friday. Everyone reacts differently to the medication- for me I become very tired, rundown, and ill feeling.
My doctor has told me that, there are injections that actually work better than these MTX pills. I might be switching over to these sooner rather than later, because my recent labs have shown that my inflammation has doubled since last time.
If those do not work there are infusions- those seem to take hours, but only require to be done monthly.
Remember, everyone reacts differently to medications, and they respond differently. It is very scary to start something new, especially something that has such strong side effects, but we are all trying to get our bodies to go into remission to prolong the deformities.
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© 2018 Kayla