4 Treatment Hurdles and How to Overcome Them

Treating our rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can come in many forms. Some of us choose to manage it with traditional pharmaceutical medications, while others choose alternative methods such as functional medicine. Still others find a combination of paths to be most helpful. No matter which treatment pathway you choose, there are always hurdles to overcome when it comes to treating and managing your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Read on for 4 major treatment hurdles and how we might seek to overcome them.

1. Treatment fatigue

No matter which avenue you choose, simply keeping up with your treatment plan is exhausting. Biologic medications require constant administration (either at home or in-office) and monitoring. Not to mention the cycle of waiting to see if the next one works or wondering how long it might work.

In the past, when I’ve experienced treatment fatigue, I’ve worked with my doctor to take a break. I was frustrated and overwhelmed after several medications just didn’t seem to make a difference and I needed to take a break. After about 9 months, I was ready to try something again, and for me, the break wasn’t too detrimental to my progress.

2. Prohibitive costs

Cost is by far the biggest hurdle many of us face when it comes to managing our disease. If you go the traditional route, biologic medications and lab testing is very expensive and even cost-prohibitive for many. Even alternative methods like functional medicine are rarely covered by insurance.

Luckily, there are a few options to mitigate some of the costs. Larger pharmaceutical companies have copay assistance programs, which is what I use. And the number of more affordable biosimilar options grows every year. Seeing a functional medicine doctor is out of my price range, but I use all the free information online and in books to put together a list of lifestyle habits and supplements tailored to my needs to create my own DIY protocol.

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3. Fear of the unknown

Fear can be paralyzing. One of the biggest fears when you live with rheumatoid arthritis is fear of the unknown. We don’t know how we might react to a new type of medication. And we don’t know what the future might hold in terms of disease progression. These are very real fears and concerns in a life with a suppressed immune system, and medication reactions can hold us back from making decisions and moving forward with treatment.

Speaking with your medical professional about your concerns is a good place to start. But, additionally, I have found great value in speaking with a mental health professional as well. They can help you sort out the root causes of some of these fears that might be keeping you from utilizing all your options for treatment.

4. Overwhelm and decision fatigue

With so many factors to consider when it comes to treating our RA, the sheer amount of information and choices can lead to analysis paralysis and overwhelm. I went through a period when I was so overwhelmed and worried about making the wrong decision that I couldn’t make any decision at all. Rheumatoid arthritis is such a complex disease that impacts everyone differently, which makes it easy to see how researching and learning about it can feel overwhelming.

The best way to beat this hurdle is to remind yourself to take each day as it comes. Each day, it helps to remind yourself to take one small step, one symptom at a time. From a practical standpoint, list your biggest concerns and focus on managing those first. Many people find journaling helpful or talking it through with an understanding friend when they feel overwhelmed.

Treatment is a marathon, not a sprint

Remember, my friends: Managing your RA is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are struggling with your treatment plan, it is okay to take a step back, breathe, and reevaluate your options. There is support to be found here.

What hurdles have you faced with your RA treatment? Have you been able to overcome them? What has worked or not worked for you?

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Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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