Once you have received a diagnosis of RA, you may have mixed feelings. You may be relieved to have an answer for the myriad of symptoms that have interrupted your daily living. Yet, you may also feel uncertain or worried about what this diagnosis might mean for your future and for those that rely on you. One of the most important strategies for living with RA is to educate yourself. Many people have lived fruitful lives with this condition for many years. By dipping into the wealth of information already available, you can put many worries at ease. We hope that, first and foremost, this site can be a resource for you in you discovery of what to expect.
Tests and Treatment
It may be hard to understand the test results that are reported to you or why your doctor has ordered them in the first place. It's not necessarily a sign that things are getting worse. A caring physician will monitor many factors in your body throughout your treatment. The Arthritis Foundation website explains some of the most common lab-work for patients with RA in their Lab Test Guide. From time to time, your doctor may want to adjust your medications, because there are a variety of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. She may believe that there is a better combination for your specific needs.
Daily Living with RA
Besides medical treatment, there are many things that you can choose that will have a significant impact on your management. Everything you do with your body will have some effect on your body. Nutrition, exercise, socializing, relaxation, and sleep are all areas to investigate for ways to improve wellness.
Exercises for Arthritis (Please check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.)
Dealing with any significant chronic illness initiates a grief process more or less. Your life has been changing and so it is natural to experience feelings of sadness. However, it is also common for many people with RA to experience depression. Another important part of managing your health is managing your mental health. Below are a list of features of depression that may need to be addressed with your doctor or mental health provider. The good news is that, even if you experience some or many of the following features, there are many things that can help.
1. Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
2. Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
4. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
5. Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed
6. Decreased energy or fatigue
7. Moving or talking more slowly
8. Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
9. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
10. Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or over-sleeping
11. Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause
and/or that do not ease with treatment
(National Institute of Mental Health, 2016)