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Diagnosis

Newly diagnosed a few ???

  • By Michelle

    I have just went through two weeks of prednisone to make sure I have RA & I do. The next step is Methotrexate. What kind of side effects can I expect? Also, most of my pain is in my hands and the top of my feet. What do you do to help this? Thank you in advance.

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  • By Andrew Lumpe, PhD Moderator

    Hi Michelle,

    Sorry for your recent struggles. RA diagnosis is a clinical process and relies on a combination of symptoms and blood tests (see https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/diagnosis/). Using prednisone is not formally a part of the diagnostic process but it can tell a doctor if you respond to a powerful anti-inflammatory medicine. Methotrexate is one the first disease modifying medicines that doctors turn to to control RA. It’s a chemotherapy drug originally designed to treat leukemia (still used for that today). It was found to impact the immune system and helps control autoimmune processes in RA. The doses used for RA are much lower. Here’s an article that will help you understand it https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/treatment/methotrexate/. One of the most common side effects is nausea. Assuming you’re taking pills (there’s also an injectable form), you may wish to plan to take it on a day when you can monitor yourself and take it easy for the next day or so to see how things go. Some people find that they get some hair loss. Most doctors will also prescribe folic acid to help alleviate some of the side effects. In terms of pain relief for joints, there are lots of things people try. There are pain relievers (https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/treatment/pain-relievers-analgesics/). Some people use ice, heat or rubs for temporary relief. Warm baths in epsom salt may help.

    I wish you well on your new journey into RA. Read and learn about it. Make connections with other who have gone before. Be willing to make adjustments.

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  • By GingerS

    Hi Michelle,
    I take Methotrexate also. I have found eating a couple of soda crackers before taking the medication helps with the nausea. The Dr prescribed Lyrica, which has helped tremendously with the pain in my hands and feet. Everyone is different. But I hope this helps you. I am newly diagnosed also. And still trying to find my way. But these two things have helped me.

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  • By KimmyCA

    I’ve had symptoms for a few months now, but I think I’ve had this a long time. My doctor did and RH factor, mine was 149. I finally got in to see the Rheumatologist last week and he said I had RA. He did run some additional blood tests, liver function and CCP? Not sure if that’s correct. I started me on 2.5 mg of Methotrexate, 4 pills once a week. But I’ve had some stomach issues so I have not taken it yet. I will call tomorrow when they say they should have my blood work back. Kind of scared to take the meds actually. But the medrol dose pak I had several weeks ago has worn off and the pain and swelling in my hands and feet is getting worse.

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  • By Andrew Lumpe, PhD Moderator

    Hi Kimmy, sorry for your recent diagnosis. But glad you found this community. Blood tests are a part of diagnosis but aren’t always 100% accurate. Symptoms are also an important part of diagnosis. It’s not recommended to take medrol for long term and the fact that symptoms return when you stop shows that inflammation is causing your symptoms. Taking a disease modifying drug like methotrexate is important to get the disease in check. Keep us posted.

    RA Diagnosis

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  • By Jennifmo

    I was diagnosed with RA in July 2014….. This is new for me too and there is a lot of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.

    I take six Methotrexate once a week. I found that if I eat a decent dinner and take three of the methotrexate, then in the morning, have a decent breakfast (scrambled eggs/toast/fruit) and take the last three methotrexate. My RA doctor said that this was ok, as long as I take all six within 24 hours. The first time I took all six at once, it felt like I swallowed battery acid for the next several days. I think breaking it up in smaller doses is easier on your stomach.

    I had hair loss. I take five folic acid and Biotin (Over the counter). My hair is not longer falling out and has grown back. but, it was very scary to see how much hair was in the drain of the tub…

    I soak in Epsom salt as needed.

    My RA symptoms started in my feet. LOTS of swelling. Then spread to my hands/fingers… and elsewhere by the time I was able to get into my RA Doctor. Swelling in my feet is a near constant battle.

    The Methotrexate started working by week three for me. By week 12 I felt great!
    I have been dealing with flares off/on since Feb 2015. It’s been difficult to find my ‘groove’ of what I need to keep the flares under control.

    Good luck and don’t give up!

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  • By KimmyCA

    Jen mine started in my feet too, but I didn’t know what it was. thought it was the weight gain. So I guess the hair loss is more prevalent, then when you’re on the medication it levels off and hair comes back? I was reading the info sheet from the pharmacy and it said hair loss would come back after stopping the medication, but if you’re taking it for RA then you don’t stop unless they change it right? Also, doc said it can go into remission, well, how do you know if you’re in remission or it’s the meds.

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