Ask the Rheumatologist: Latest Answer
Marieanne from Sarnia asks: I was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I was started on a tapering dose of Prednisone, methotrexate, and hydroxychloroquine. It has been nearly 3 months and I am still noticing increasing pain and worsening symptoms if I lower my prednisone dose. Is this normal?
The goal in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is to eliminate joint pain, stiffness and swelling while improving function and preventing joint damage. DMARDs, including methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine, are the class of medications which are used to achieve this goal. However, they do not always work as well as we want. It is important to work with your rheumatologist to find the right combination of DMARDs that work for you. Fortunately, there are many options available, and many patients are able to find success with the right combination. Until that combination is found, treatment also needs to focus on ensuring best control of your symptoms. That may include pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, or glucocorticoids such as Prednisone.
The process to find the right treatment combination can be slow in some patients. That can be frustrating as it sometimes can feel like your health care team will never find the right treatments. A positive attitude, education around your disease, and working with your rheumatologist and health care team members will help you achieve your goals.