With today’s treatments, there’s no reason to let rheumatoid arthritis stand in your way.
Next month, Nicky Jackson is taking a vacation with her family. “We’re going camping,” the Pennsylvania mom of three says. “Hiking, fishing, roasting marshmallows over the fire — I’m going to love every minute!”
The reason she’s so upbeat? It’s been years since Nicky has been able to enjoy a vacation. “I actually stopped going on family trips — my RA made it painful just to walk,” she explains. “When my husband took the boys to Disney World one year, I decided it would be better for everyone if I stayed home. Sitting on the couch those nights, missing out on the family fun — that’s when I decided to do something about it!”
Talking with her rheumatologist, Nicky’s spirits brightened. “She told me there were other options for me — and that one of them could put a stop to my joint pain. That visit turned everything around! I started a new therapy that’s made all the difference, and now I’m practicing how to pitch a tent and build a fire! The best part, I’ll be part of my kids’ memories.”
Find your RA answer
RA happens when your immune system — which normally fights invaders, such as viruses — attacks joint tissue, resulting in pain and inflammation. Because RA is a progressive disease that changes in your body over time, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. “Although your symptoms may be similar to those of a friend, it’s not always the exact same disease process and won’t always respond to the same medication,” explains New Orleans-based rheumatologist, Madelaine Feldman, MD.
Medications target different areas of the immune system, and your doctor may need to try a few options before you find the one that works. Don’t give up, says Dr. Feldman: “Our goal is not only to relieve your symptoms, but also to slow the progression of RA. And if we can control it in the early stages, we can actually prevent joint damage.”
Don’t settle for ‘good enough’
Going from good to great means talking with your doctor about all your symptoms. “Don’t be discouraged if you’re not where you want to be,” says Dr. Feldman. “Our goal is to find a therapy that will put you in remission. You just need to work with your doctor to find it.”