Fatigue, stiffness, joint pain … With such diverse symptoms, treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be difficult, therefore is important to build a RA treatment team you trust
It is essential to work with your health team to ensure that the treatment methods work for your specific condition. Combinations of medications can be adjusted by medical professionals to find safe and appropriate doses , but this process can take months or even years.
RA Treatment Team
- A sub-specialty of internal medicine
- Specializes in issues with joints, soft tissues, and autoimmune diseases
- Your Rheumatologist is the cornerstone of your RA treatment team. You should see her regularly and she should be involved in every aspect of your care. Make sure to build your RA treatment team around a Rheumatologist you trust. If you are having a hard time finding, social media can be a great place to find recommendations from other RA warriors.
Primary Care, aka your regular or family doctor
- Your primary care doctor is focussed on your overall health. She will act as the point person or coordinator of your care team, not just your RA treatment team.
- While your Rheumatologist will likely act as the key decision maker for you RA treatment, it is important for your primary care doctor and Rheumatologist to work together on your RA care. RA can impact your entire body and it can be challenging to find the root cause of symptoms without a collaborative RA treatment team.
Physical Therapist / Occupational Therapist
- Specializes in rehabilitation to promote mobility, function, and quality of life
- Useful for rebuliding strength and flexibility to ensure autonomy
- If RA is affecting your everyday life, consider adding an occupational therapist to your RA treatment team. An occupational therapist’s job is to find ways to make it easier for you to accomplish your day to day goals. She will work with you, your family, and your community to find clever ways to let you continue to live your own way.
- Exercise is an critical part of managing RA. If you are having a hard time staying active, and have the means, consider a personal trainer. She can help you create and stick to a the best fitness plan for you and your RA.
- If you are having a hard time managing pain or staying active, adding a physical therapist to your RA treatment team can help. Your joints will be healthier if they are active, and finding ways to keep you active is what your PT is best at
Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counselor, or Mental Health Professional
- Specializes in the study of behavior and the mind
- Useful for support for depression, anxiety, stress management, fear and phobia management, and more
- RA can be stressful and if it starts to impact your emotional well-being it is valuable to add a mental health professional to your RA treatment team. She will help you find better ways to cope with the challenges of living with RA
- Note: Psychiatrists are able to write prescriptions whereas psychologists and counselors rely on non-medicinal methods
RA Treatment Plan Goals
The goals of a a treatment plan should be discussed with your RA treatment team to determine the appropriate strategies based on your age, symptoms, current health, and lifestyle.
- Lower the level of arthritis disease activity
- Reduce joint pain throughout the body
- Minimize joint damage
- Enhance physical function
- Improve quality of life