Disease Progression...

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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 99
   Posted 5/30/2008 8:59 AM (GMT -7)   
OK, so having been just recently Dx'd, now I have few questions about meds, progression on disease, "catching it early", etc.
I have taken one dose of MTX (boy it's nice not to have to remember how to spell that each time); I also am taking naproxyn.  While my doc didn't say to take folic acid, I will since most others' docs recommend it and my boss (former rheum.) says he always had his pts. take it.
What other things are you all taking?  I take a pretty good multi, fish oil, and calcium--although I am terrible at taking meds and usually forget to take those.
My doc has told me and I have read elsewhere, that the whole key is "catching it early".  But what exactly does that mean?  Is this considered early--I've only had symptoms for about 4 months.  But first it was just my knees acting up (had started doing stairs for excercise).  NOW--it seems to be everywhere:  fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, knees, feet/toes. No hips or shoulders yet, but maybe that will happen soon!
So, what do you think it means to catch it early?
OK, also--if she is not doing any RA factor, sed rate, c-reactive something-or-other, and other blood stuff till after 3d does of MXT, then how would she know if it elevated?  Are these markers elevated regardless of treatment?  Or would the medicine affect the numbers?
Progression:  how fast did your RA progress once you knew you had RA?  Does it take years to get really bad, or can it hit you like a ton of bricks all of the sudden?  I know, everyone is probably different, but I want to get some kind of gereral idea.
I am only 43 years old; I work full time; I have growing children (almost cried last night because I couldn't lift my DD into the shopping cart without my arms being in pain).  How long before I can't work anymore????
Sorry for so many questions. Sigh.  This last 14 mos. have been tough; hubby Dx'd with crohn's in Novemeber (after months and months of all kinds of testing), now this.....
Learning can only happen when a child is interested.  If he's not interested, it's like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating.  Make him interested!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 2113
   Posted 6/1/2008 11:23 AM (GMT -7)   
Some of the answers to your questions are so individualized there aren't really answers but I will give you the answers that were true for me and others will do the same so you have an idea of the range.
Catching it early means before major joint damage or deformity occurs. Four months sounds good. SED and CRP change pretty regularly-testing after three weeks on Mtx should show wether there is improvement from before the first dose assuming you had a test done prior to the first dose.
As to progression-hmm the disease generally is more active early in the disease process with most joint damage occuring in the first two years-but joint damage is cummulative so although your flares may get less active if each one is causeing more damage the pain and disability is progressive (did that make sense). Also, this is where people are each so different. I was horribly sick the first three years then had a partial remission for seven years then last october got as sick from the RA as I was during the first three years. Now I am on MTX and Plaq and pred-never been on that much medication before.
As to how long you will be able to work-depends on the cource of your disease-how much joint damage-how well the meds work.
I was diagnosed almost 11 years ago-had very active systemic disease but with almost no joint damage. I still work-though my job has little in the way of physical requirements and I have more control over my schedule than most people do.
This last flare in october probably would have cost me my job if it were not for Prednisone and the fact I work as a contractor rather than an employee.
Now with a good rhuemy and my current medication I feel great and have no problems continuing to work.

You have just started Mtx you will probably feel much better in three months than you do now. I don't know if you are on prednisone but if the RA is interfering with daily activities enough that relief is worth the side effects of pred you might ask your rhuemy for enough to last until the mtx kicks in. I am on week 8 of mtx and am attempting to taper off pred.

I hope some of this information is helpful-I know my case is not typical (I am not sure any of us are typical) as many here do have significant joint damage and some do have to give up working but with good early treatment you may be able to put that off for many years.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 1539
   Posted 6/1/2008 2:35 PM (GMT -7)   
I was dx with Osteoarthritis at age 25.Since I have a high threshhold for pain the only thing I use is Tylenol extra strength ot tylenol arthritis medication.When I really hurt i get in a real warm tub of water.cold  of any type makes me hurt worse...

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1331
   Posted 6/3/2008 3:10 PM (GMT -7)   
It's been almost three years for me and I started out on the NSAIDs and now have graduated to the biologics (Enbrel) and have not taken it for a couple of weeks and I hurt all over.  I think I went down hill pretty fast with the RA.  I also take the MTX (8 pills) and plaquenil..all of this combined and I still have some pretty rough days, but that is just the way it is sometimes. I think with RA it's a bit different than osteo because you have the fatigue that goes along with it, and thats hard to combat!
I hope you find the right combination and it just takes time..hang in there!

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 74
   Posted 6/4/2008 3:29 AM (GMT -7)   
everyone is definitely going to be different in there range of symptoms, for me my Rhuemy beleives that I had my first flare up when I was about 18.. and the reason is when I was 18 I woke up one day feeling like a truck ran me over, it was like having the flu with out the flu sort to speak, it was the first time that I ever felt my bones and muscles hurt with such intensity...and the worst part was my legs, and i had these lumps all over, which was actualy RA NODULES...at first I went to my usually family doctor, who at that time didnt know what was wrong with me and referred me to a podiatrist, well when I met with the podiatrist, he said well since u dont have any health insurance, what I can do is give u this RX MOtrin 800 mgs and take that 3 times per day and rest as much as you can, being at that time, It was summer time, and I was done with school, I was able to rest, and let me tell you all I did was sleep and sleep and sleep, and after that week, I didnt get that kind of pain until I turned 23 years of age, but I still didnt have a proper diagnosis beucase I wasnt seeing the right type of doctors, it wasnt until I was 27 years old that I was properly diagnosis, and according to the Rhuematologist, he had said dont worry "WE CAUGHT IT EARLY", I guess beucase I still didnt have any joint damage even though I was flaring off and on for years, and then off course I had that period in my life that i didnt have any discomfort until i hit my twenties...

I guess when I was 18 years old, most doctors didnt really know much about the disease, and it was often thought as an elderly type of disease, mose doctors didnt really think RA in an individual that was young, now every 2 minutes you see commerical abouts people with Ra who are young....

Im glad they found your disease within 4 months of the active flare up....There are some people who are in the beginning stages and then within 6 months of the RA, they have joint damage

As for me, I am now 30 years old, and The Ra has affected moslty my hands, and especiually my right pinky and my left pinky are slightly crooked, its more like its become lazy as my Rhuemy would put it, so I do PT excersise to keep it strong...So it really depends on the person and the disease itself...Ra has affected other parts of my body...But I try to remain as active as possible...

So take your meds as best you could and really on your good days, try walking and some weight training while you stil can, beucase as the disease progress you need to build on as much muscle as possible, and keep in mind, that RA can cause Depression, which I learned the hard way...But I try to keep my spirits up as best I could....

So I wish you the best, and I hope you get into remission as soon as possible....and remmeber after a couple of months, if the meds ur taking isnt making a difference let your Rhuemy know, its very important to have an open communication with your Rhuemy beucase You will see your Rhuemotologist more often than your general practiioner.... Infact my Rhuemy is now my family doctor as well, just because he knows what he is doing, and he understand my medical needs better than most of these doctors around...

So I hope u feel better, and I hope I was able to answer your questions, im sorry i couldnt more specific on ur questions, but like another person said before me, it really is base on per individual basis being that RA does affect everyone differently...

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