9 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About RA Treatments

By

Orenstein, Beth W

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Doctors

If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the earlier and more aggressively you treat it, the better your chances of slowing its progression and reducing your joint pain. There are a number of treatments for RA. It can be confusing to understand how each drug works, as well as the benefits and risks of each drug. Here are nine questions to ask your doctor to help you find the most effective treatment.

1. Why are you recommending this treatment for me? No doctor can predict how any medicine or other treatment is going to work for you. With RA treatments, it's often a matter of trial and error. Ask your doctor why he is recommending a particular treatment for you at this stage of your disease and how he feels it will help.


2. What are the benefits and the risks? When choosing any treatment, it's important to weigh the benefits you hope to achieve against the possible risks. The benefits should be greater than the risks for you to pick a particular treatment option. Ask what percentage of people benefit from the treatment your doctor is recommending and how many suffer serious side effects from it.

3. What are the possible side effects of the treatment you're recommending? Every drug has potential side effects. Even over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can cause stomach upset and increased risk of bleeding. Ask your doctor to outline the common side effects of the recommended treatment and what you can do to lower the risks. Would it help if you took the medication with food or if you took it at a specific time of day? Are treatments available to make the side effects more tolerable? Be sure to address long-term risks, especially those that can be more severe, such as intestinal bleeding.

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