Video Q & A:

RA Pain 101


What should I ask my doctor about managing RA pain?

Expert:   Linda Russell, MD, Hospital for Special Surgery »

There is so much to know about your disease-- it seems too overwhelming to even start. Here are a few questions to ask your rheumatologist-- they're a good start.

Transcript: Your rheumatologist WANTS you to ask questions, but since you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed, you may not be able to think of any! Here are some you’ll probably want the answers to. Number 1: Will I have to be on medication forever? In short, the answer to this one is “yes.” Most cases of rheumatoid arthritis last a lifetime. In order to prevent joint pain and damage, you’ll have to take disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, and/or biologics, indefinitely. But every case is different—so start this conversation with your doctor. Number 2: How do you know if I’m better? YOU know when you’re feeling better when your pain and stiffness has lessened. But how does your doctor know? Well, the American College of Rheumatology has a set of guidelines to evaluate whether or not a treatment is successful. You’ll get a physical exam, X-rays and possibly a blood test. Ask your doctor what he or she is looking for during these tests and examinations! Number 3: What’s the next option? What if my treatment isn’t working? Sometimes, a particular drug combination works wonders. But at other times, it doesn’t work at all, OR it STOPS being effective. If your symptoms are NOT diminishing, speak up! You may need a new DMARD or a different biologic. Your doctor will make the decision based on your exam results, your symptoms and medical history. Number 4: What else can I do? You should ask your doctor what action YOU can take to relieve your RA symptoms. Medication is vital, but EXERCISE also helps enormously. You may be limited depending on the progression of your RA, so don’t try anything until you ask your physician. He or she may even be able to refer to you to a physical therapist. And weight loss, if you need it, can take enormous pressure off your joints and that ease pain considerably. Once you get the answers to these questions, you’ll be one step closer to fully understanding your treatment plan. To learn more rheumatoid arthritis basics, check out other videos in this series. More »

Can't Find an Answer? Send us your question »