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
What’s YOUR weapon against arthritis?