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New to RA

Pain began in March 2017, diagnosed with RA September 2017. Am currently on a weekly Methotrexate (.8 ml) injection. Was told improvement is gradual – true?. I’ve learned so much reading others’ stories but still have some questions. Are steroids always necessary as part of treatment? I am adamantly opposed to using them. In January 2017 I had a benign tumor removed that produced excess cortisol so I experienced first hand what that can do to one’s system. One symptom I experienced prior to my diagnosis was extreme swelling in my feet and lower legs. Is that part of RA? I still have swelling but not nearly as bad. Prior to RA I was a “gym rat”. Is therapy preferred vs. going to the gym? I’m concerned that I’ll damage my joints. I recognize that there’s no way I’ll be able to do what I did before. I can’t even get up off the floor due to my knees and hips. I’m afraid that I’ll continue to get worse but try not to focus on the negative and just adjust to my new life. I’m 70 and prior to 2017 had no health problems. It pains me to read about those who have dealt with RA for many years. It’s hard to feel sorry for myself when so many others have suffered so much for so long. I meant to keep my post short and will do so in the future – promise. Thanks for sharing your stories; they have helped me immensely.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • LynnAB
    1 year ago

    Hi Valerie…I too had swelling in my feet so badly that I couldn’t even get my flip flops on during the winter to see the dr. Eventually the pain and swelling subsided and I find that if I miss my methotrexate I get very stiff, sore and miserable. I switched to pool exercise and find it really helps. Best of luck in your future.

  • Larry Sawyer
    1 year ago

    Valerie, You do what you can until its too hard. Than you do something else. I have always tried to relegate my RA to the position of a nuisance that requires management to keep it at bay. As I get older, maintaining that position becomes a little more challenging but my mindset is still the same. So, never say never about a regime that hold promise to push back the RA envelope of pain and fatigue. . Steroids have their uses, friends of mine have used low maintenance to push the envelope back. For myself, during the 80’s and 90’s no one new what I had and steroids/nsaids were all that was available short of real drugs. So I use them knowing full well the risks. But nibble on everything that other patients are finding effective, it just might work for you and that is a good thing.

  • 2mra
    1 year ago

    Hi Valerie…Welcome!

    Sorry that you were dxd. Yes, that is true. It usually takes 3-6 weeks to start feeling somewhat better and up to 12 weeks or more to get the full benefit of Methotrexate (MTX).

    i don’t blame you for not wanting to use steroids. It’s a glorious but evil drug. People don’t use it unless there is nothing else that works for them and death seems more suitable. I’ve been on it for 12 years now. Mainly on low doses, except for 3 higher times but short intervals. Actually, none of these drugs are great but at least they relieve the pain for most people.

    I’ve had swelling of my fingers, toes, knees, etc. which is normal. The only time that I had swelling of my feet and legs was after my Total Knee Replacement (TKR). I was told to put my feet up on pillows while lying down. I was also put on a Diuretic until all the swelling went away which it did a couple months later. Others may have had a different experience.

    Therapy is usually better but that is up to you. Some people feel better with medications and go back to using the gym too. Do not be rough on yourself. Gentle or moderate exercises are fine. I know how you feel. I was very active and also enjoyed Yoga since high school. After my symptoms, I was never able to sit on the floor or get up without severe pain, do many of the yoga positions, lay down in the tub, play with my little ones or pets on the floor or grass. Very sad. I so miss those activities. Oh, when I was in remission, I was able to run. I even beat my Daughter in a long races. Ha! I remember, we were coming out of KMarts. It was summer and I was feeling so good, that I just started running through the huge parking lot.

    As you can see, your post is short. I do hope that the medications work well for you, as they do for so many people. Thank you for sharing a part of you.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi ValerieNC,

    Thank you for sharing and please, whenever you need to, no matter the length our community is always open.

    I am glad you received a diagnosis! In my opinion that is the first step. We cannot give medical advice online (for your protection) but we strongly suggest you speak to your physician about your concerns and questions.

    This article might help in seeing some other drugs that are frequently used to treat RA:

    A lot of our members face the same struggle trying to find a happy medium with exercise: This might be a good place to start for some exercises you can add into your gym routine.
    For me personally, I was an avid rock-climber and I had to quickly learn how to juggle my favorite sport with my new limitations. I would personally much rather climb (even if it’s more painful) and I was not going to give it up, most definitely!

    I hope you find a good exercise regime that doesn’t exacerbate your symptoms and please feel free to reach out whenever you need to! We all need to vent sometimes no matter if we have had RA for years or are newly diagnosed.

    All the best, Monica ( Team)

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