Messages to others with RA

People offered many different kinds of advice to others with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), based on their experiences at different stages of their illness. People are all different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. Here are their suggestions:

Your illness:

  • Get a diagnosis and start treatment as quickly as possible

It is important to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis as early as possible and to get it treated quickly.

Age at interview 49

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 33

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  • Take your medication regularly
  • Remember that the painkiller paracetamol can be taken on an empty stomach, ie. first thing in the morning, without it harming your stomach (see Painkillers)
  • If you are in pain your doctor may be able to refer you to a pain clinic
  • Find out as much as possible about RA, medication and services available (see Finding information about RA)
  • Pace yourself, listen to your body and accept that some days you cant do certain things (see Self-management)
  • Keep moving, lead as active a life as possible, and do your exercises
  • Exercise in water, where you dont put too much stress on your joints (see Exercise and Physiotherapy and hydrotherapy)
  • Try complementary therapies but be aware that they may not work for you and you may waste your money (see Complementary and alternative approaches)
  • Eat healthily and sleep well
  • If you have the opportunity, try and take part in clinical trials
  • If you are offered anti-TNF therapy, give it a go but remember that it is not a cure

Linda encourages other patients to volunteer to take part in clinical trials.

Age at interview 44

Gender Female

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Because she feels much better since started on anti-TNF medication, Sandra tells others to try it…

Age at interview 51

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 51

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Dealing with professionals

  • Approach health professionals positively
  • Build a relationship with your GP
  • Find a consultant you like and trust and who knows about the latest treatments
  • Work with your consultant, have a partnership
  • Change consultant if you do not feel you are compatible with them
  • Plan your consultations carefully, make the most of the time you have, build a rapport with the consultant and remember to ask questions

Ask questions and get all the information you need at the time of the consultation.

Age at interview 45

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 39

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  • Adapt your lifestyle to accommodate your illness – dont let it take over your life
  • Accept help when it is offered and ask for help when you need it

There are times when you can remain independent, but at other times you need to accept some help.

Age at interview 38

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 21

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Approach to life

  • Try to keep a positive attitude
  • Try to come to terms with the illness and accept it
  • Dont get depressed
  • Dont moan and groan
  • Dont isolate yourself, join a club
  • Try yoga or start a new hobby, something you enjoy and make time to do it
  • Talk to others with RA and join a support group such as Arthritis Care
  • Keep flowers in the house, they will lift your spirits
  • Trust in God

Message to other partners of those with RA

We interviewed 4 partners who gave the following messages to others in their situation

  • Dont panic about what the future holds – none of us know what will happen tomorrow
  • Take one day at a time
  • Make the most of your partners good days/periods
  • Look for things you can do together rather than regret the things you cant
  • Be aware of, and sensitive to, your partners needs and be prepared to help when necessary
  • Be optimistic, with a positive attitude and dont let it rule your life
  • The problems can be overcome and there is support available
  • It is a gradual change and adjustments happen over time but it is important to recognise your partners restrictions
  • Seek information about RA
  • Persevere when seeking a diagnosis/treatments
  • Don’t be afraid to ask health professionals questions.

Messages to health care professionals

People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) had important messages that they wanted to convey to doctors, nurses, and other health workers: Dont neglect the special needs...