As a newly diagnosed patient, my first concern was to stop the current pain and try to reverse some of the minor deformity (specifically a boutonniere finger). I quickly began treatment with triple therapy, a combination of methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine (which I didn’t take for very long due to side-effects). I also began seeing an occupational therapist to learn joint protection techniques and to receive therapy for my hands and fingers. By the way, warm paraffin dips feel lovely and sleeping with pressure gloves on reduces some of the swelling which occurs at night. Those few first months were very encouraging as I began to see and feel improvements. I still practice some of the exercises my hand therapist taught me to protect hand function and to maintain strength and agility.
Finally, stage 4 of my journey was the time that I connected with patients in online communities and researched all treatment options. Prior to diagnosis or initial treatment decisions, I had not jumped right in and immersed myself in the world of RA. I had blindly followed the advice of my rheumatologist while I did make the small request to “do something about my deformed fingers.” My doctor is the one who guided treatment choices and sent me to someone who could teach me one-on-one about how I could better care for myself for the longterm.
Read this post in its entirety:
My RA Journey: The Stages Before and After Diagnosis