By Dr Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist
When the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is confirmed, it is now standard practice for rheumatologists to commence a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) as soon as possible. If there are no contra-indications, the most commonly used medication is Methotrexate.
Unfortunately, patients with rheumatoid arthritis who do not see a rheumatologist are typically not commenced on DMARDs.
One reason may be that general practitioners are not comfortable or experienced in using these medications. Another reason is that there is a lot of misconceptions about these medications. Like all drugs, there are of course, possible side effects and these often scare patients. However, rheumatologists only use these medications when the benefits of the drug clearly outweigh the risks. Education about appropriate use and regular monitoring also reduce any risks dramatically.
In essence, DMARDs are used when the outcome of the disease is bad & the aim of using DMARDs is to prevent this bad outcome.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a classic example of a disease where effective medication is clearly needed.
Don't delay. If you have rheumatoid arthritis & haven't seen a rheumatologist lately, it's time.
Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health.
BJC Health provides a connected care multidisciplinary team philosophy to deliver positive lifestyle outcomes through a holistic approach to those with degenerative & inflammatory arthritis, tendon injury and lifestyle diseases. Our clinics are located in Parramatta, Chatswood and Brookvale. Contact us.