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Treatment

Flares during treatment

  • By Cheryl Buhr

    I have been told that the goal of treatment is to minimize symptoms as much as possible. And I have also been told that treament will never eliminate flares. So how do you distinguish between a flare and treatment failure?

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  • By Mariah Z. Leach Moderator

    Hi Cheryl – This is a really tricky question and unfortunately there just isn’t a solid answer. The best thing you can do to attempt to tell the difference between a flare and the need for a new treatment is to try to play close attention to your body and discuss any/all changes with your rheumatologist. See if there are any patterns. See which symptoms seem to be the worst or stick around the longest regardless of what you do to try to fix them. It may help to keep a journal or log of your symptoms – there are even some apps out there that can help you track these changes on your phone or computer (in fact, I think RheumatoidArthritis.net is actually working on creating just such a symptom journal to go with this site!). Gather what information you can and take it to your rheumatologist. Together you can decide whether your current treatment needs more time or whether it is time to move on. Unfortunately it is often a long and frustrating process to figure out whether a treatment is actually working or not, and not every treatment works for every person. It takes time and patience to find one that works. And though it is easier said than done, it helps to try to stay positive through the process! And remember we are here for you if you need to chat/vent/complain!! Hang in there!!

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  • By Andrew Lumpe, PhD Moderator

    Cheryl,

    Here are a couple articles that may help…

    How Do You Know When It’s Time to Change Your RA Treatment?

    Treat to Target (T2T) – The Goal for all RA Patients

    And here’s what rheumatologists recently recommended for what is called “treat to target”…

    “The treatment aim was defined as remission with low disease activity being an alternative goal in patients with long-standing disease. Regular follow-up (every 1–3 months during active disease) with appropriate therapeutic adaptation to reach the desired state within 3 to a maximum of 6 months was recommended.” http://ard.bmj.com/content/69/4/631.abstract

    With that in mind, if symptoms last 3 or more months, then it may be time to switch treatment plans.

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