Fanchi from Edmonton asks: I may have rheumatoid arthritis but have not been diagnosed yet. What can I do, if my symptom continues, before I meet a rheumatologist?
If I have to use expensive biologic DMARD, is there any way to find some insurance plans that can cover most of the cost?
For patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the use of disease modifying medications is key to control symptoms AND more importantly, the underlying disease. For a variety of reasons, it can take time for them to work, but there are other options to control symptoms, such as pain, while waiting. While best to discuss with your own physician, anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are a good first choice for many patients, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Sometimes, cortisone injections into particularly painful joints, or even a short course of prednisone by mouth, could be used. Physical therapy also has an important role to protect joints in this early phase of rheumatoid arthritis.
While expensive, rheumatologists in Alberta are usually able to work with patients to find a way to fund biologic medications. It would be unusual to not provide needed treatment because of funding issues for most patients with rheumatic diseases in Alberta.
Posted: December 8, 2015