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Answers tagged rheumatoid arthritis: Page 1 of 4
Q:

Lily from Edmonton asks: Is there a generic version of Enbrel or Etanercept that will do the same thing Enbrel does for less cost?  I can’t get Enbrel covered anymore.

Biosimilars are new medications which are biologically similar to original biologics.  In Canada, as of 2020, Enbrel and Remicade both have biosimilars available and many medication insurance plans are, or are considering, not providing coverage to the original biologic, but rather the less expensive biosimilar.  For most patients, the biosimilar should be as effective and safe.  However, for each individual, it is important to speak with your rheumatologist to make the right decision for you.  For more information on biosimilars, please click here.

Q:

Austin from Toronto asks: I tested CCP positive but have no symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.  Am I more likely to get it now?

Anti cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti CCP) is a test which is highly associated with rheumatoid arthritis.  It is not necessary to test positive to have rheumatoid arthritis, but most individuals who are positive have or will develop RA.  That being said, there are exceptions to this rule, particularly if the test is not strongly positive.  In particular, there is growing data to suggest individuals with pulmonary (lung) issues may test positive and not develop RA.  In some instances, it may be worthwhile monitoring your joints with a rheumatologist over time to ensure you do not develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Q:

Richard form Montreal asks: Is Xeljanz (tofacitinib) covered in Alberta?

Every province has slightly different rules for coverage of advanced therapies such as tofacinitib, and biologics.  That said, in most situations, working with your current rheumatologist, or your new rheumatologist if you are planning a move to Alberta, a solution is found to ensure you can continue to receive the treatment that makes you well.

Q:

Tracey from Canada asks: If I have psoriatic arthritis, can I work as a gas bar attendant?

The treatment goal for any inflammatory arthritis is to reach remission.  Those in remission should be able to participate in all their normal activities, including work.  Before reaching remission, patients should listen to their bodies.  If it hurts when you are doing something, it is important not to ignore that.  However, that line of what is too much is going to be different for everyone.  The important thing to know is that being active is not going to make the underlying disease worse.  In fact, exercise in moderation is considered a positive step for those with inflammatory arthritis.

Q:

George from Chicago asks: My mother has rheumatoid arthritis.  She is afraid to take medications due to all their risks and the need for bloodwork.   I searched RA without medication showing that it can cause a shorter life span, including heart failure, and lung damage.. is this true?

Studies show that poorly controlled rheumatoid arthritis may shorten one’s life span by about 10 years, with cardiovascular disease risk being one of the biggest risks.  Poorly controlled RA can affect many other organs outside of the joints, as it truly is a systemic disease.  Our current treatment options are generally very good at treating rheumatoid arthritis, limiting the risk of organ involvement and we believe improving life span.  Unfortunately, no medication is without its risks and treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis are no different.  For most people, the benefit of taking the medication outweighs the risks.  Every person with rheumatoid arthritis deserves to have a conversation with their rheumatologist outlining all the risks of a given medication AND their benefit, as well the benefits and risks of not taking medication, so a decision can be made based on all the information available and that is right for you.

Q:

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.

Q:

Karen from Calgary asks: Is it possible to have both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can happen in the same person.  Unfortunately, if you have one, it still is possible to have the other as well.  It is important for you and your physician to be able to differentiate which joints are affected by which condition.  The best way to do this is to describe to your physician which joints are involved and how they feel, while your physician will complete an appropriate physical exam.  Further investigations such as blood tests or imaging can be helpful, they are often far from definitive in making a diagnosis on their own.

Making the right diagnosis ensures the right management choices are being made, as treatment for OA and RA are different.  To learn more about OA and RA and treatment options, please click on the highlighted links above.

Q:

Robert from Edmonton asks: Is there a phone number to speak to someone about medications and immunizations for rheumatoid arthritis?

There is no “hotline” available, but certainly there are resources.  This website, under the Medications tab, does list immunization/vaccination information for our patients.  Your rheumatologist also is available to take phone calls from you.  For general education needs, in Edmonton, we offer a 3 day Rheumatoid Arthritis Education program.  Speak to your rheumatologist if you are interested and they can enroll you in this excellent program.

Q:

James from Sherwood Park asks: Are there any support groups in the Edmonton-area for the spouses of those managing chronic pain? My wife has RA and I think it would be beneficial to hear from other supporting partners in how they manage with the daily challenges/opportunities when living with someone in chronic pain?

There are no specific programs that are associated with rheumatology.  However, it is very common for spouses to attend support groups with their partner and connect with others on the effect rheumatoid arthritis has had on the patient and their family.  Speak to your rheumatologist about a referral to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Education Program, an excellent course which covers all aspects of RA, including how to provide support.

Q:

Travis from Calgary asks: Do rheumatologists treat Raynaud’s phenomenon?

Raynaud’s is a condition where upon exposure to cold, the peripheral parts of the body – fingers and toes, but sometimes nose or ears – can become painful and change colours from white to blue to red.  It is certainly a condition that rheumatologists may see. Raynaud’s can occur in individuals “just because”, often starting as a young adult.  It can also happen in association with other rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma.  A rheumatologist can assess a person for Raynaud’s, make suggestions to help, and also ensure the person does not have any underlying rheumatic disease too.



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