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What is the right treatment for rheumaoid arthritis?

Q: I am 28 years old woman suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. My joint pain started after the delivery of my first child who is 4 years old now. I have taken so many allopathic, homeopathic and ayurvedic medicines but the pain recurs. Now I am taking medicines prescribed by a rheumatologist with the painkillers. How long does it take to cure? Is it a curable disease?

A:Are you sure that you are under a well trained and experienced rheumatologist? I am asking this because painkillers are not the drugs for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis requires a group of drugs called Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs). Correct DMARD or DMARD-combos in correct doses leads to complete control of disease activity in more than 80% of the patients over a period of 3-6 months. After that the doses are brought down to maintenance levels. At that dose these medicines are taken life-time (just like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, thyroid disease and most other chronic diseases of human being). The disease has a tendency for 'flares' during which some additional medicines are required or dose adjustments are required. All this is done very efficiently by a well trained and experienced rheumatologist.

In those patients who do not show satisfactory response to full doses and/or combinations of DMARDs, there are more expensive but highly effective drugs called 'biologics' available. In general, very few patients require biologics in real life.

Last but not the least, an important point to realise is that the disease RA has many 'side effects'. With correct treatment these 'Disease side effects' do not occur. These 'side effects' are much more serious than any side effects of medicines. Therefore, DMARDs must be taken in correct doses or correct combinations to prevent disease complications or 'disease side-effects' without much worry about 'side-effects'. Moreover, the rheumatologist will monitor your blood reports at regular intervals to ensure against any adverse drug effect.

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