September 11, 2020
This is my 2nd year of being diagnosed with RA and recently fibromyalgia. I’m currently taking Humira, methotrexate and Cymbalta.
I feel better but I still have some pain here and there especially right before my monthly cycle. I though I would be completely pain free but now I’m wondering if that would ever be possible.
September 11, 2020
This is probably a better question for your Rheumatologist but I can share my experience with you.
I was diagnosed with RA when i was 15 and I'm 24 now. I've been on the same medication (Actemra) for almost 5 years and I've never been completely pain free. I am still super susceptible to a flare up when I eat poorly, exercise too much, drink alcohol, and/or when I'm stressed. I have yet to figure out the perfect formula for a completely pain free life. I think the medication has saved my life and I would be suffering severely without it but I also think that the rest of the pain is in my hands. I strive to live a healthy lifestyle because I believe that correlates directly with the random flare ups I have.
I hope more RA team members give us their insight on this one because I too am curious what others' think!
Good luck with everything and keep us updated on your journey!
Franki, RheumatoidArthritis.net Team
September 17, 2020
Hi Marlyn. While I can't speak from a medical perspective, I can tell you that, while it is possible to go into remission (our contributor Wren writes about her experience with it here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/remembering-remission/), most with RA have to seek to control their RA and minimize symptoms. The question then becomes one of working with one's medical team to find a treatment regimen to give you the optimum control, with tolerable side effects.
Also, I noted that you mentioned your symptoms getting worse around your monthly cycle. I know that this can happen. My wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here) has had conversations with her rheumatologist about this and he commented that it is absolutely possible for hormone changes to impact the RA. This article from our editorial team looks at RA and women's health, including the impact of hormones: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/women-health/. You may want to discuss this with your rheumatologist and maybe come up with a plan to proactively alter your treatment around these times to deal with any worsening symptoms. Wishing you the best. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)
September 17, 2020
Thank you so much for reaching out with your question! To piggyback on what Richard and Franki said, I've been diagnosed with RA for 20 years, and I'm never completely pain free. However, there are many days when the pain is mild enough for me to push it to the outskirts of my consciousness. I'm not hyperaware of it and it isn't preventing me from kayaking, biking, hiking, etc., but it isn't absent either. Maybe a little like a radio station that is *almost* perfectly tuned in but there's still a little bit of static. Over the decades, I've learned to live with this mild pain and it doesn't scare me the way it did those first very hard years after getting diagnosed.
I've also had times of severe pain over the decades. My medical treatment has been really big in this - and as Richard shared some people do achieve medically-induced remission. For me, even more significant than treatment has been stress level. When I've worked in really stressful jobs or faced really stressful family situations, I've had severe pain far more frequently than at other times in my life. It has taken me many years to recognize these trends, but now that I know this about myself, I have structured my life differently to make it less stressful. I used to be a school social worker, and it was the most meaningful employment I've ever had, and it was also the hardest on my body. This knowledge about my body is simultaneously a bummer and also very empowering; while I would prefer to have limitless ability to do whatever my heart wants, at least I have found ways to have some positive impact on my disease activity level.
As your pain is worse during your cycle, I recommend you discuss this with both your rheumatologist and gynecologist, as there may be options. This has never been a significant issue for me, but my sister's RA and Type I diabetes got so much worse during her periods that her doctors gave her hormones to decrease this. Depending on the severity and what your doctors say, there may be options worth exploring.
Thanks again for reaching out with your question!
Wishing you all the best,
Monica Y. Sengupta
September 24, 2020
I also wanted to jump in and share my experience with you.
While I have never had true remission, I did have a few months were my RA was not in the fore-front of my mind. I wasn't feeling pain, I didn't even really think about it. However, I was still on all my medications and couldn't decrease them. (This was about three years ago.)
Even though, I was diagnosed ten years ago I still remember the first few years. It was hard, frustrating and scary at times. It's a tough time when you are working with your medical team to find the right medications and wait for them to take effect. If they don't, it feels like you're starting from scratch.
Please know it does get easier...it just takes a bit to get there. You are welcome here any time you have a question or are just looking for some extra support.
All the best, Monica