Video Q & A:

Symptoms, Tests, & Diagnosis

Question:

What's my future look like if I start RA treatment right away?

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

You'll have the best chance for a productive, mobile life if you start rheumatoid arthritis medication upon diagnosis. Find out why joint damage prevention is so integral.

Transcript: Starting medical therapy EARLY can prevent IRREPARABLE joint damage and ease the agonizing pain and stiffness, allowing you to live with greater physical comfort. Drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen treat the PAIN of your rheumatoid arthritis, but the ONLY meds that SLOW the progression of RA are called DMARDs, or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. Your doctor will likely start you on a DMARD called methotrexate right away. AND may pair it with other DMARDs such as leflunomide or sulfasalazine. These medications can slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and offer you greater quality of life. Eventually, you may be placed on a biologic response modifier. These drugs are also DMARDs, but they treat RA on a molecular level using substances engineered from human cells. They can STOP joint damage. But they do make you more susceptible to infections, so it’s possible that you’ll have a harder time preventing upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and other common bugs. Making sure you have the best future with RA also means getting plenty of exercise. If you STICK to your treatment plan and continue with a healthy lifestyle, you can MINIMIZE pain and joint damage. For more on rheumatoid arthritis, look for other videos in this series. More »

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