All posts tagged: RA autoimmune disorder

RA, Nighttime and Cortisol

We all agree that mornings with RA is not easy. Stiffness, pain,  and suffering that feels like it lasts forever. I have learned to manage morning pain well.  I usually wake up about five or six to use the rest room. At that time, I take  pain medication  and I go back to sleep. When I wake up around eight,  the edge has been taken off my discomfort. I  have coffee and read the New York Times for an hour. And then I am good to go. Some of us with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) experience increased pain at night.  When I am in a flare, I have a hard time sleeping.  My body feels worn  and  ragged. Knuckles, wrists, shoulders, feet, ankles, pelvic girdle, spine. And even my elbows. Nighttime pain is different. It feels heavy. It feels overbearing. It feels endless. It just seems too much. Research has shown that people who experience nocturnal pain have an increased number of swollen, painful joints. They are sicker. For normal bodies the inflammatory system works to …

Targeted biologics for RA Part One Rituxan and Orencia

The following are targeted biologics approved for rheumatoid arthritis.  Targeted means these drugs  dampen a particular  part of the body’s overactive inflammatory process. Rituxan Orencia Actemra Kevzara Kineret Some of the  biologics will not work for you although they work for some other people. Some biologics work for a short time then stop working.  Some biologics work for years then seem to stop working suddenly. Sometimes an insurance company will stop covering certain biologics and insist a patient use a limited selection from their formulary. Some people are affected by the possible, serious side effects of these drugs. These complications happen to somebody so pay attention when your doctor briefly mentions them. Doctors do not know which drugs will work for you. Docs give it their best shot. It is trial and error. There is no system to finding the biologic that will work for you. This is the current medical  scenario. In this article we will discuss Rituxan and Orencia. Rituxan (Rituximab) In 1982,  Rituxan was created by Ronald Levy for the express purpose …

Surviving Covid-19 with RA

Those with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to become ill with covid-19 and they are more likely to be hospitalized or die. In addition, if you are on an immune suppressing biologic your  covid-19 vaccine will only be about 65% effective as opposed to the 95% coverage most people enjoy. The reason that a third vaccine will soon be available to those who are immune compromised is because those hospitalized with breakthrough infections are from the immune compromised group. This is not a booster shot. It is a third vaccine. Those with RA who are on an immune suppressing biologic will be eligible. Although those who had RA were included in the vaccine studies, those with RA who were on biologics were disqualified from participating.  So, there was no data on the effect of immune suppressing drugs such as the biologics on the effect of the vaccine. The vaccine is safe for those with RA. Protection from the virus is limited for those on the biologics. It has been found  that those with RA who …

TNF inhibitors

The next line in the treatment of RA TNF inhibitors/TNF blockers are a group of biologic medicines that suppress the body’s response to TNF. TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) is a complex protein produced by the white blood cells in response to inflammatory events in the body. Those who have rheumatoid arthritis may be given a TNF inhibitor as part of their therapy. This is the third article in a series about the treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis. You can download the articles or you can read them on Marysarthritis.com. Many insurance plans may require that you start your therapy with a nonbiologic such as methotrexate (MTX). As troublesome as the side effects are in the beginning, methotrexate has a good success rate. When MTX isn’t enough the doctor may order a combination of methotrexate with sulfasalazine and/or leflunomide. A TNF inhibitor may be the added to the methotrexate. Although the TNF inhibitors are basically similar, they do have differentproperties. If one doesn’t work for you, another might. Your doctor will order a TB test and …

Surviving Food, Nutrition and RA

This is the first few pages of the nutrition section in my up coming book Self-Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis. Surviving Food, Nutrition and RA We all know that good nutrition is an important part of staying healthy. Most of us have limited knowledge on what constitutes eating well. Our problems are many when we try to figure this out. What is good nutrition? How does it fit into our family style? How do we manage when we have pain and fatigue? How do we manage when our budgets are limited?  To complicate matters, each of us is unique both in body make-up and in our responses to our environment. We need diets or food plans that work for us individually. It is a given that a good diet will help you manage your RA. Good food will help. You might already realize your particular dietary needs. Some will do better on a vegetarian diet. Some will do better without dairy. Many will thrive on a Mediterranean diet or an anti-inflammatory diet. Some are gluten intolerant. Some …

Infection and off methotrexate

I stopped taking Actemra. I had only two doses this time. Last week I stopped taking methotrexate. I had been on it since 2013. All this was at  a suggestion from my oncologist who was helping me battle a severe breast infection. The infection started in October 2019. I went to a wound clinic for a month. I had surgery to debride necrotic, radiated breast tissue 13 December. Then the infection returned. Perhaps it had never left. I also developed a severe cellulitis. The cellulitis covered my entire breast or what was left of it. Now the cellulitis is down to a couple of inches. The whole thing was caused by  the radiation treatment that I had for breast cancer in 2013. The radiated tissue became necrotic and infected. It is not uncommon. I wonder what part my RA drugs played in this long standing dilemma. This infection has gone on for three months. I do know that methotrexate should be stopped while a person is on an antibiotic. Methotrexate should not be used at …

RA in New Mexico

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis in New Mexico. Are there advantages to living in New Mexico with RA? Sure there are. The climate is high desert and very dry. Humidity is tough for many situations. It is frequently hard on the joints.   Less humidity is a good thing. Another one. New Mexico is sunny. Our brains love light. Light helps to keep us happy. RAers need happy help. Sunflowers are like happy pills. They make us smile. New Mexico is a good place to have RA.

My favorite RA Book

When I had a severe episode of RA in December 2012, I was in so much pain that coping day to day was my only focus. As the diagnosis of RA was made clear and treatment commenced, I had to learn as much as I could. I also needed to understand my situation. I turned to the best book I could ever recommend to someone who is new to RA. It is called The First Year Rheumatoid Arthritis by M E A McNeil The book explains a lot. And equally important it helps a person shape a healthy attitude toward  RA It helped me take charge of my illness in a healthy, positive manner. Another pain free day. I am in paradise!