RA~ Why its a good thing that the ACR is recommending more aggressive treatments early on in diagnosis

Published April 6, 2012 by Kristel Goodspeed-Correa

I was reading a news article about the American College of Rheumatology and how they are recommending much more aggressive treatment plans during the early stages of RA.  Of course, it got me to thinking… 😉

Wow~ Its hard to believe that it has already almost been 5 years since my severe RA diagnosis (August 2007)!  And almost 4 years since my Lupus diagnosis (Fall 2008).   I was literally diagnosed right from the get-go with SEVERE Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I recall my Rheumatologist  telling me, this is NOT something that happens overnight.  This happens over the course of years.  So why then..despite having physicals every year, wasn’t the RA questioned earlier on BEFORE it got to the Severe Stage???

I had complained on pains to my Physicians for years and years and it fell on deaf ears.   WHY wasn’t I tested for RA sooner?  If I had been, the damages I am seeing currently, could have possibly been reversed before they caused permanent deformities.  This is WHY the American College of Rheumatology is recommending treating RA much more aggressively in it’s earliest stages.  So it can be reversed!  By the time, I was diagnosed, it was already too late- it was in severe stages.

I personally would like to see more Physician education on how to recognize the early stages of RA and other Autoimmune Diseases.  This education is especially needed among Primary Care Physicians who write out referrals to the Rheumatic Specialists.   They need to listen to their patients and test for these types of diseases much, much sooner than they do currently.

At this time, back in 2007, I could barely walk because I was so crippled from these diseases. It was too painful to even wash my own hair because the pain was so bad that I could not even lift up my own arm.

I have had many nights where NOTHING, not even prescription pain medication would even touch the pain.  It did not even lessen it.   Sometimes that would go on for weeks or months without any relief, especially during the winter months or in bad weather.

Here we are 5 years later and although I am showing signs of major damage done by the RA, I am once again able to walk for the most part and able to do most things I was no longer able to do in 2007.  However, I have severe damages done by the RA at the same time.

Now I STILL get issues and there are some stuff that I do still have difficulty doing from time to time.  My left hand in particular has 2 of the knuckles that have literally been eaten away half way across by the disease.  This damage was found via x-ray.  My back is one hot mess back there- uggghhhh

I just had to have my boyfriend replace the doorknob in the bathroom to a lever one vs a knob because I was having too much difficulty turning the knob and was getting trapped in my own bathroom and couldn’t get out again.   Darn “RA PROBLEMS”  lol.   Some of the crazy stuff that happens to us, you seriously have to find some sort of humor in because otherwise, I think we would cry.

I think its great that the ACR is recommending much more aggressive treatment plans earlier on in diagnosis.  It may be too late for me, for MY RA, because my damages have already begun to take place…  but it might possibly prevent these same damages  from happening to future patients.  And that’s a good thing.  No one should have to be permanently disfigured by this disease.  The earlier they catch the disease and begin to treat it , it has a greater chance of being reversed.   Now let’s hope that more Physician Education into the earlier stages of RA is also a priority as well.  The sooner the disease gets diagnosed and on treatment plans, the better the eventual outcome.


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