I have been on biologics for about a year, and it is working really well for me.
As far as cost, most of the major brands have patient assistance programs. I have health insurance through my employer, and was able to sign up for a payment assistance program, and my monthly co-pay is just $5.
I know that both Enbrel and Humira have these programs; I'm sure most of the other ones do, too. You can look at their websites for more information.
I am currently taking MTX and Humira, and the results have been really good for me. I wake up without stiffness, have no pain, and even this terrible weather we've been having in the Midwest has not been bothering me. I recently had an ultrasound on my wrists, and there has been no progression of the disease since a year ago. This is really important because RA if untreated can really affect your mobility.
I was hesitant to start the biologics as well, but now I am convinced that it was the right move. Just make sure you are carefully monitored, with regular blood tests, etc. to watch out for side effects.
The other thing I am doing is going to water fitness classes (Arthritis Foundation and regular classes) four times a week. It is tremendously helpful.
Good luck and best wishes. Don't give up....it's a process, and sometimes finding the right medicine or combination of medicines can take a while.View Thread
Hi, nmacky. So sorry you are worn out and depressed...
Maybe you should consider finding a doctor who is a little more empathic. A doctor who tells you to "deal with it" doesn't sound very helpful. Are you seeing a rheumatologist?
I know you said you don't like medications, which is very understandable, but perhaps this is a discussion you could revisit with a doctor who is sensitive to your needs and concerns.
Maybe my story will help: I am also very averse to taking medications (I think most people are) but I've worked with a (very patient) doctor who convinced me to do a trial of methotrexate, and it helped to some extent. She kept encouraging me to try Enbrel, and after a year, I gave it a try. I was really resistant to taking it, but I had some changes in my personal life which required me to do more driving and other activities which were really exhausting me, so I tried it.
It was really helpful. In less than a month, I could do much more, with less fatigue. I could get dressed more quickly, carry groceries more easily. I started sleeping better, and actually woke up without morning stiffness. (Really, I don't work for a drug company!) I can also go out in the evening after work, instead of coming home and plopping on the couch. I even shoveled snow once, although in retrospect that was probably not a good idea! I was just so excited that I could do it.
RA is a progressive disease, so the great thing about these biologic drugs like Enbrel, Humira and the others is that the can actually slow down or stop the progress of the disease.
For me, the benefits outweigh the risks. I don't want to end up unable to use my hands and have problems walking and carrying things as I age.
It is depressing to not be able to do things, to have chronic pain, problems sleeping, etc. So I understand how you're feeling. My sincere suggestion, based on my experiences, is to find a doctor who you like and trust, and be open-minded about the medications.
A competent doctor who puts you on RA medication will monitor you regularly for side effects and will work with you to find the right drug or combination of drugs that work best and safely for you.
Good luck and best wishes...don't give up the fight.View Thread
More ideas, in addition to my previous post: Use an electric mixer to mash potatoes (don't peel them). Get a good, well-balanced chef's knife. If you can't carry a pot of boiling pasta to the sink to drain, use a slotted spoon to remove the pasta into a bowl. Use nonstick pans for easier cleanup. Get help with the hard stuff!View Thread
This is a great discussion! Pans with two handles are really smart. When I started having problems with my hands, I switched to Corelle for dishes and bowls. They are extremely lightweight and easy to handle.
OXO makes a lot of products that are easier on your hands. I really like their big V-shaped jar opener. Their vegetable peeler is also good. I also bought the electric "As Seen on TV" can opener that you place on top of the can and it goes around the can by itself. That one is a winner.
I recently needed new mugs, and spent a lot of time comparing, lifting, etc., before I made a decision. Sometimes the differences are subtle, but they can make a big difference.
Xperky, Corning Ware is really heavy, especially when filled with food. Maybe you can switch to metal pans or use aluminum disposable-type baking pans.
It's also helpful to get large-size tweezers, etc. There are also nail clippers designed for people with hand problems.
I hope if anyone else has any great tips, they will pass them along.View Thread
Two comments: 1) Don't be terrified by what you read. Every case is individual, and often it's people with more challenging cases who participate in forums. You may indeed have a great response to the methotrexate, and early intervention has been shown to slow down or stop the progression of the disease. I have had satisfactory results with the MTX myself and haven't had to add any other treatments, etc. Be patient; there is a fair amount of trial and error in finding the right medication, but you can get help.
2) I find an anti-inflammatory diet helpful. There are several versions out there, but the main features are plenty of fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein and healthy (unsaturated) oils. Foods to avoid include refined sugars, highly processed foods and foods high in sodium. I also take fish oil daily. Dr. Andrew Weill has an anti-inflammatory food guide, and there are many books and other resources.
Good luck to you. It sounds like you are taking the right steps...working with a rheumatologist, doing research and looking for answers. Just take it one day at a time, and make time for activities you enjoy to keep your stress levels manageable! View Thread
Your symptoms do seem like they might be some kind of arthritis...but you will really need to be tested and examined to confirm.
Don't be scared---getting a diagnosis is the first step to figuring out what's wrong and getting treatment, which will hopefully stop the pain, or make it manageable!
I had finger and hand pain, and put off seeing a rheumatologist for some time (this is kind of a typical story!) but I finally did, got a diagnosis, and started a medication. It's only been three months, but I am significantly improved, with very little pain and swelling at this point.
Good luck---my advice is, if your PCP suspects any type of arthritis, get a referral to a rheumatologist. They are specialists and up to speed on the latest research, treatments, etc.View Thread
That is great news! As a former runner, let me just advise you to listen to your body, never run through pain, wear really supportive shoes (and replace them regularly---you may need to replace them sooner than you used to) and run on soft surfaces.
I am a big believer in physical therapy or working with a physical trainer for a couple sessions to get tips and techniques to strengthen your quads and glutes to minimize stress on your hip joint---before you start experiencing pain.
You might also look into taking fish oil and making other dietary modifications. An anti-inflammatory diet (you can check out Dr. Weil's on his website, and their are others along the same line) can also help ease or ward off symptoms, especially if your symptoms are mild.View Thread
Hi, and welcome. Sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis.
Are you seeing a rheumatologist? It's really important to see an arthritis specialist, because diagnosis can be tricky, and different forms of arthritis have different courses and treatments. A rheumatologist will do a complete blood work-up, which helps in making a proper diagnosis.
As far as the aggressiveness of the disease, it depends what type it is. If it is rheumatoid arthritis, the standard is to intervene early with medication, to prevent or slow down damage to the joints.
A rheumatologist can advise you on how to exercise safely, too, and whether running is OK. Exercise is really beneficial to keep your joints limber and strenthen your muscles; swimming is a great alternative to running.
I'm so sorry you are having such a rough time. You really have your hands full.
If your doctor is not sympathetic to your issues with the medication, I would strongly suggest that you find another rheumatologist who is more empathic and helpful. Finding the right medication can be a trial-and-error process; there are a lot of medication options out there and your doctor should be helping you find one that works and that you can also tolerate.
I know it's difficult and frustrating, but it's really worth trying again with another doc. RA meds can actually STOP or slow down the progression of disease, and if your fingers are deteriorating, you really want to get that under control as soon as possible...so you can continue to function at work and with your kids.
Another thing you can do is ask your doctor for a referral for some occupational therapy; you may be able to learn some simple exercises for strengthening your fingers and hands and helping maintain flexibility in those joints.
(I know---one more thing to do!)
And finally, I hope you are able to carve out some time for yourself to relax and de-stress...you do have an awful lot going on.