Treatment Options of Rheumatic Disease: My Current Plan – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

People ask me all the time what I take for my rheumatoid arthritis.

The truth is, I think I’ve pretty much tried everything, and, I’ve reacted differently to everything.

The reason I don’t share the specifics of my exact treatment plans anymore, is because there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment, and everyone’s body is different. Plus, these conditions are cyclical, so something may work for a bit, and then stop working, and so on. I personally am very sensitive to medications, and so, I wouldn’t want my negative experiences with certain drugs to detract others from trying them, because, some of the meds out there for rheumatic conditions are essentially life-savers for some people!

I do not feel that it would be responsible for me to encourage or dissuade any of my readers from trying or not trying whatever treatment plan they wish to try. It is up to you, as a patient, to be empowered, educated, and to self-advocate. Try every and all options available to you. You never know which one may be the “golden ticket.”

Always talk to your doctor about treatment options. If you don’t agree with your doctor, or don’t feel that they are listening, try to get a 2nd or even a 3rd opinion. There really is no “right answer” – the right answer is whatever works for YOU.

In the past, biologics worked for me. I was on 2 injectables, and 2 infusions. I have also been on DMARDs, NSAIDs, steroids, and immunosuppressants. I have never been one to rely on narcotics or opioids, except for after surgeries, and that is my personal choice, NOT a judgement call on anyone who does rely on them. I only take medications if it is absolutely, positively, 100% necessary, and it takes a lot to get me to that point. That’s just me, and I realize that’s not everyone — that’s why I hesitated to write this post, but so many people have been asking what treatment plan I’m on. I will tell what’s worked for me recently, is to step away from the biologics (they are pretty “hardcore” stuff, if you think about it,) and do a mostly natural regimen.

In fact, I’m on no RA meds. Yup – you read that correctly! I do take a very low-dose steroid (hydrocortisone) but it is more for endocrine issues than the RA. Sometimes, I’ll take an OTC pain reliever – an NSAID like ibuprofen, naproxen, etc. Usually, I just continue on with my supplements. If I feel a flare coming on, I get plenty of rest, drink lots of ginger tea, eat lots of cherries, and take extra turmeric supplements. I also do honey with apple cider vinegar. I also do ice and heat, and take a bath with epsom salts. I take 20-some supplements daily but some of the ones that are for RA include colloidal silver, turmeric, and collagen.

I do believe that diet can do a lot, too. If I feel a flare coming on or am flaring, I avoid dairy and sugar. Also, I exercise almost daily now, and, though never, ever would have believed it before, I credit it for helping manage my RA without all of the tons and tons of drugs that I’d been put on through the years. There’s always that “positive mindset” that helps, too!

Someday, maybe soon, maybe far in the future, I will likely need to go back on RA medications. For now, my body is enjoying the more alternative route.

In addition to diet and supplements, I get myotherapy and stim, once-a-month hourlong massages, and biweekly acupuncture in addition to exercise. I work with a personal trainer and a physical therapist to ensure I’m doing things that work with my body and my joints. I am due for hyalauronic acid (“chicken fat”) injections in my knee, too.

So, since everyone keeps on asking, there you have it. I’ve been on….a LOT of RA meds. I never, EVER thought I’d be able to function without them. But, here I am. On a thyroid medication, the hydrocortisone, and a lot of supplements. That’s where I am now. In a few months or a few weeks or a few years, it may be different. The face of treatment for autoimmune and rheumatic illness is always changing, but for now, my approach is translational medicine. (All of my treatments were prescribed by an M.D, believe it or not: a rheumatologist, at that! One of the few who understands that not all of us can tolerate drugs.)

I am not saying this will work for you, or that it won’t, but there you have it!

I hope that whatever path you’re on in treating your rheumatic condition is a good one, and that you all get to feeling better soon! Remember to always consult your doctor before changing treatment plans, and keep in mind that my views are not necessarily that of the Arthritis Foundation and do not necessarily equal endorsement.

Happy 4th of July!

Stay Well, Ashley Boynes-Shuck

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5 thoughts on “Treatment Options of Rheumatic Disease: My Current Plan – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

  1. Hi Ashley- you said that alot of people ask you what you take for your R.A., and coincidentally, I am one of them:) I appreciate your feedback. About some of the supplements you do take- the colloidal silver- I read about that years ago, the benefits, but was hesitant to take it because of the “blue skin” side effect. Does it worry you at all that it may happen? (Yes, I read about the “Man who turned blue”) That was my biggest fear! What are your thoughts on this?

  2. Thanks for sharing, Kiddo… One of the things I have found when I started connecting to the RA community on the web is that people have very odd attitudes towards their choice of treatment plans. A lot of them are very defensive and even aggressive about it… In my personal experience and also from observation on the blogs and the internet, I have to agree with you. There is no silver bullet. No one-size-fits-all treatment. Heck, not even a one-size-fits-most treatment… I do enjoy hearing about other people’s successes And failu

    • Failures. Reminds me, when I’m battling the Monster, that I am not alone. I am not a lone crusader. Though I wouldn’t mind if I was… That would mean you all would not be suffering as well…

      Be well…

  3. Dear Karen, Thank you for reading! I am always a bit anxious about trying new medications or supplements because of the side effects. There are really no treatments out there that don’t have potential side effects, and, it’s just up to the individual patient to weigh risk vs. benefit. I’m on a very low dose and working closely with my doctor to monitor any and all side effects of meds and supplements. I can stop at any time. Additionally, it’s all about listening to your body and being aware of changes. You just have to do what’s right for yourself! But, if you start something, and do begin to have side effects, it is important that you tell your doctor right away. I have had a lot of side effects from medications, and some with supplements, too. It’s all trial and error!

    SKR – Thank you for your kind words. Yes, people get very defensive over their illness, and almost protective of or possessive over their treatment plans. It all goes back to that competition that goes on amongst chronically ill people sometimes. Luckily, we all have a choice on these online communities who to follow/friend, what to listen to and what to ignore, etc. Also, in life, we all have the choice of what our attitude is going to be! So, I appreciate that your attitude is one of camaraderie and support. You are not alone. None of us are! That’s something to remember.

    Thank you guys for reading,
    Ashley 🙂

  4. Ashley, I continue to be so thankful that you are able to put into words what I feel and how I approach my battle with arthritis and a very bad back. So many times, I just want to cut and paste all of your articles in my photoremedy.me blog. You are far more eloquent and on target.Thank you for being an inspirational leader for those of us ‘in the trenches’ with you.

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