If you or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you may be wondering what you should do next. It is helpful to speak with a medical professional to discuss the progression of RA and lifestyle changes that need to be made. A rheumatologist is a specialist who is specially trained in diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disease and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
RA is a progressive disease and symptoms may appear and disappear over time. Symptoms should never be ignored or untreated because of the risk of damage to joints. A rheumatologist can help patients determine what stage their RA has reached and suggest a treatment plan. A rheumatologist can also prescribe medications they should be taking. If a person is having difficulty with painful symptoms, a rheumatologist can suggest actions that will help alleviate the pain such as exercises, diet changes and supplements.
If you believe that you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, the next step is to talk to a doctor or rheumatologist. The American College of Rheumatology offer a helpful resource for locating a rheumatologist in your area:
Joining a support group is a good way for people with RA to learn more about the disease and cope with the physical/ emotional issues of it. Groups often support each other and patients feel more at ease knowing they have friends to turn to when they are experiencing difficult times. RA can leave people feeling depressed and out of control but having the support of others can make people feel more confident. Arthritis Introspective, an organization focused on helping the lives of young and middle-aged adults with arthritis and rheumatic diseases, has a wide network of support groups that meet all over the country. To learn more about local support groups, find your region on their list here.
If there are no local support groups and you would like to begin one, Arthritis Introspective can send you a free training guide on how to become the leader of an independent support group. Information on starting a
Another option for group support is to join an online community for people with RA. WebMD and The Arthritis Foundation both have forums where people ask questions and discuss their options for treatment, medication and lifestyle choices. Online communities still give the benefits of a support group, but can allow users to remain anonymous or discuss sensitive topics openly.
Arthritis Today is a print publication that provides information and advice for living with arthritis diseases from the world’s top doctors and health experts. It covers topics like new treatment options, fitness and nutrition advice, and much more. You can subscribe to a digital edition though the App Store on most smart devices or order a print version to be delivered to your door.
Arthritis & Rheumatology is a top rheumatology research journal published by the American College of Rheumatology. It is directed towards medical professionals and scientists interested in learning the details of the “natural history, pathophysiology, treatment, and outcome of the rheumatic diseases.” They also published articles and editorials written by top scientists in the field of rheumatology. Arthritis & Rheumatology is free for members of the ACR, but non-members can order issues of the publication here.
The Rheumatologist is a monthly publication by the American College of Rheumatology that covers scientific issues and trends that affect the RA community. They also cover the latest on research conducted and the practicality of new treatments. Issues of The Rheumatologist can be purchased here.
Arthritis Drug Guide: Keeping track of all the different medications a person with RA must take is difficult. All medications affect the body differently and come with different side effects. The Arthritis Today Drug Guide produced by the Arthritis Foundation allows a user to look at information about the specific drug they are taking including dosages, potential side effects, special instructions and if there are special precautions known with that medication. Treating all medications the same is dangerous and this guide offers facts that patients need to know.
There are several blogs that are kept by people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The authors use the blogs to share their struggles and to reach out to other members of the RA community.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior is kept by a woman who has been battling RA since 2006. She shares her research, personal struggles and even some recipes with her readers with the goal of informing and empowering.
All Flared Up is run by Amanda, an active 32-year old who has battled RA for 14 years. On her blog she speaks candidly about the struggles of leading an acive lifesyle with RA and hopes to inspire others to “live rather than wallow”.
RheumaBlog is different from the others because the writer treats the blog as a journal and tells poetically written stories about her experiences. She has lived with RA for over 20 years and often has debilitating symptoms.
Other rheumatoid arthritis blogs include:
Because some blogs are updated more frequently than others, we grouped the blogs listed above into a Feedly Shared Collection (available here). Feedly is an application that allows you to read articles and blog posts from you favorite blogs and publications together in one place so you don’t have to check each individual website to look for new articles and posts.
There are several apps available for smart devices that will help document and manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
RheumaTrack was designed by rheumatologists to help patients keep track of their good days and bad days. This free app allows you to log your pain levels and will remind you when it is time to take pills. It is interactive and even allows you to export the information to bring to a doctor. RheumaTrack is available for free for Apple products at the App Store here and also for Android users here.
MyRA makes it easy to let your doctors know how a person has been feeling over the past weeks or months. The interface is visually simple and will help you better record your feelings than a journal. MyRA is available free for iPhone and Apple users here and for Android users located here.
Track + React was developed by the Arthritis Foundation to help those with rheumatoid arthritis manage their daily lives. Record your food, exercise, sleep times, medication and pain levels in one simple place. It also gives immediate and helpful advice for managing symptoms. Available free for iPhone and iPads and Android devices.
Local Resource Finder: The Arthritis Foundation (AF) offers a local resource finder on their website that allows a user to search for RA support in their own communities. You can search for local AF offices, community and fundraising events, Rheumatologists and other health care resources with just a few clicks. This finder can take a lot of the research and guesswork out of looking for resources on your own.