By Dr Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist
If you have inflammation affecting your joints, and it has been confidently diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, there are a number of things I think you should not do.
Here's 6 of these:
- Don't stick your head in the sand.
- Once the disease is established, it typically does not just go away. I do understand the need to come to terms with a chronic illness. It's not at all easy but we can't just wish it away. That's unlikely to happen.
- Don't procrastinate.
- It's clear there's a ticking watch. The earlier you treat, the better the result for you with a stronger chance of avoiding damage and deformity. We need to treat this nasty disease early.
- Don't just rely on what friends and family tell you.
- They're of course trying to help but they may not understand the specifics of the disease affecting you. Please get an expert opinion, and if you are still uncertain or confused, get a 2nd opinion. It's your body and you need to make educated decisions with doctors you are happy to work with.
- Don't just rely on what you read on blogs and forums.
- I write a blog, and obviously present one point of view. There are other points of view, written by different people with different motivations. Information on the internet can be extremely useful but you need to be able in some way to filter and process the information, making it relevant to your specific situation.
- Don't just decide to "go natural".
- Clear-cut rheumatoid arthritis is not a pleasant disease. It is very well studied, with clear treatment strategies which while not perfect, are on the whole, effective and safe. Trusting the long term health of your body to homeopathic medication, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic therapies, super doses of celery/fish oil/glucosamine/kumin, the paleo diet, etc, etc seems a poor choice with what we know about rheumatoid.
- Don't smoke, don't put on weight, don't eat & drink poorly, don't be a couch potato.
- Lifestyle does matter so please do give up the smoking. If overweight, weight loss will help. Good nutrition and regular exercise can only benefit you.
Can you think of other things not-to-do?Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health. You should follow him on twitter here.
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