- Daniel Hernandez, MD, Director of Medical Affairs and Hispanic Outreach
When you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), your immune system, which is supposed to protect against germs and foreign invaders, turns against the body and starts attacking the joints — and that causes pain.
It’s important that you alert your doctor if you’re experiencing pain. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a telehealth appointment is a good first step. CreakyJoints recently created an educational resource called “A Patient’s Guide to Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain,” which includes a lot of helpful information to help you understand what is causing your RA pain and how to work with your doctor to manage it better.
This webinar explores the resources in this guide. It discusses:
- What rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is and how it is different from other forms of arthritis
- What causes pain in rheumatoid arthritis, including inflammation as well as other factors
- How different medications treat rheumatoid arthritis pain
- How to talk about RA pain with your health care provider, especially during telehealth visits
It’s important to understand these issues in order to be more informed and involved in your treatment plans and RA management.
Fast Facts from the Webinar
1. Pain in rheumatoid arthritis can be due to different factors and causes
You may be aware of the word “inflammation” as a driver of joint pain, swelling, and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis. But in addition to inflammation, RA pain can also be caused by joint erosion and damage that occurs over time. If you delay treatment, or your medication isn’t working well enough, and RA inflammation persists, it can cause permanent damage to the joint. Another big driver of pain in RA is are co-occurring conditions that also cause pain, such as osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia.
Read more here about causes of pain in RA in addition to inflammation.
2. You may need to change up your RA treatment plan in order to better control your pain
If you live with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there’s a good chance you’ll need a change in your treatment plan at one point or another. Only about one-third of patients will achieve disease control after taking methotrexate (the most common first-line treatment for RA), while the remaining two-thirds of people will need additional or other types of medication.
Fortunately, we have many treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis, but we do not know which patient will respond to which medication, so often a thoughtful but ‘trial-and-error’ approach is needed. Picking the right medication needs to account for a patient’s symptoms, underlying health, comorbid conditions, and possible side effects.
Read more here about when to consider a medication treatment change because of RA pain.
3. Communicating about your RA pain with your rheumatologist or health care provider can ensure you get the care you need
When you’re in pain, the last thing you may want to do is talk about it. Yet communicating your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain clearly and honestly to your rheumatologist — including where on your body you experience pain, how it feels, what brings it on, how long it lasts, what it prevents you from doing, and what, if anything, makes it feel better — can make sure you get the care you need to manage (and minimize) your rheumatoid arthritis pain.
Use this list during your next visit with your provider to make sure you’re describing your pain thoroughly and accurately so you can get the best treatment for it.
Get Involved in Arthritis Research
If you are diagnosed with arthritis or another musculoskeletal condition, we encourage you to participate in future studies by joining CreakyJoints’ patient research registry, ArthritisPower. ArthritisPower is the first-ever patient-led, patient-centered research registry for joint, bone, and inflammatory skin conditions. Learn more and sign up here.