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Answers tagged arthritis: Page 1 of 3
Q:

Donna from Edmonton asks: Which biosimilars are covered in Alberta?

We are fortunate that ALL biosimilars in rheumatology are essentially covered through the provincial drug plan.  You can see the options available here for TNF blockers, with more to be available in the coming months.  Work with your rheumatologist to find the right medication for you, especially now with so many options available.

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Glenda from Fort Saskatchewan asks: Where can I make a donation for Sjogren’s syndrome and its complications?

There are many great organizations that are doing excellent research, including locally in Alberta.  Currently there is a growing research program examining connective tissue diseases, including Sjogren’s syndrome, at the University of Alberta.  In fact, both the University of Calgary and University of Alberta are well known for the overall quality of research that is produced when it comes to rheumatic conditions.

To consider a donation, you can visit our donation page here or contact the University of Alberta’s Division of Rheumatology division director and administrator, using this link, to make arrangements.  Supporting arthritis and rheumatology research will make a significant difference for tens of thousands who are fighting these conditions every day!

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Jeanine from Sylvan Lake asks: Are cataracts associated with rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis can have a number of manifestations within the eyes, including scleritis, sicca symptoms (dryness), or even vasculitis.  While not as common, cataracts can occur, although this may be more due to steroid use (e.g. prednisone) than the arthritis itself.  Cataracts itself is also relatively common in the general population: those aged between 40-50 have a 5% rate of developing cataracts, so it is possible to coincidently have both.  The most important thing to do from an arthritis point of view is to ensure your arthritis is under good control.  If you have no inflammation, the chance the arthritis is affecting your eyes is low.

Q:

Emma from Canada asks: I received my 2 doses of the Moderna vaccine and with the first experienced a 1 week rheumatoid arthritis flare but it was manageable. After the 2nd dose, my RA took a turn for the worst & I have been in the worst flare of my life since (4 months now).  Should I still get the booster?

The best advice for anyone in this situation is to speak with your rheumatologist.  Regardless of the vaccine, a flare lasting more than a few weeks deserves a conversation with your rheumatologist to determine the best course of action going forward to get it under better control.  That said, while there is some evidence that the COVID vaccine may induce flares in a small minority of cases, most times the flare is either a side effect of the vaccine but perceived as a flare (likely what is described after the first shot) or a coincidence of association, rather than causation.  As so many people are getting COVID vaccine, it will happen that some will flare afterwards, but it is likely that many of those flares would have happened anyways.  As a general principle, 3rd (and now 4th) shots for COVID vaccine are encouraged for those with rheumatic diseases.

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Jean from Alberta asks: Is it safe to take methotrexate with sulfasalazine?

If you review medication interactions for methotrexate, the list appears long, but in fact, is not entirely accurate.  There are many medications listed that you should not take with methotrexate, but most of them are only theoretical, whereas we have years of experience knowing these combinations are in fact safe.

It is very common to use methotrexate and sulfasalazine together, and it is considered safe.  Similarly, some texts suggest methotrexate should not be used with anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or stomach protector medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).  Again, these combinations are used frequently.  In fact, it is not uncommon that some arthritis patients are on methotrexate, sulfasalazine, ibuprofen and omeprazole (a PPI) all at the same time.

We do recommend holding methotrexate if you require a sulfa-based or penicillin-based antibiotic, but these are really the only interactions we watch for.

Q:

Many people are asking: I have rheumatoid arthritis.  Will I be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available?

As we answer this (Dec/2020), we do not fully know the answer yet.  It is a complicated question as it relates to both the safety of the vaccine, and how well it works.  Safety is really the key part, and because the technology being used to develop the COVID19 vaccines is mostly new, we do not have the experience to know for sure if it’s safe.  That said, there is currently no reason to think it won’t be safe, as they are not LIVE vaccines, which are contraindicated for many individuals with arthritis because of the medications they are on.  As we get closer to having vaccine available, we expect more data to also come out which will help inform this decision.  Stay tuned as we learn more, and check with your rheumatologist for your particular situation.

Click here to visit our COVID-19 vaccine information page, which we will keep up to date, or our YouTube site with COVID-19 information videos.

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Jonathan from Calgary asks: Is there any specific advice recommended for rheumatology patients and COVID-19?

Please click here to our page on COVID-19.  We will try to keep this information up to date, but the situation remains fluid.

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Bazgha from Fort McMurray asks: My wife has rheumatoid arthritis; she has pain in her hand joints. What kind of exercise would you recommend to ease the pain and stop the condition from getting worse.

Exercise is good for the body and similarly, good for joints.  Keeping muscles strong around joints may help reduce pain and will help maintain function.  Weaker muscles may lead to more pain and less ability to do day to day activities.  Of course, everyone should always listen to their bodies – whether or not they have arthritis – so as not to over do it.  If it is starting to hurt too much, take a break.

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Shannon from Strome asks: Would you recommend the practice of yoga for inflammatory arthritis patients? Would you share benefits of a regular yoga practice and any cautions or concerns you may have?

While there are studies looking at the potential benefits of yoga for individuals with inflammatory arthritis, they are limited.  That said, the results that have been published appear encouraging, with improvement in pain and quality of life.  The risks of yoga, as would be the case for most forms of exercise, are small.  It is generally considered quite safe.  Just like someone who does not have arthritis, if something hurts, you listen to your body and stop.  However, yoga should not make the arthritis itself worse and has many potential benefits to those who participate.



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