Untreated Rheumatoid Arthritis

Question

I was just wondering what could happen and how long will it take if I decided to not treat my rheumatoid arthritis with NSAID and MTX and just use pain killers. What is the possibility of effecting other parts of my body besides my joints. I am 31 years old and hate the thaught of being on medications for the rest of my life.

Answer

Rheumatoid arthritis is a highly inflammatory polyarthritis often leading to joint destruction, deformity and loss of function. Only disease modifying aniti-rheumatic (DMARD) agents, such as methotrexate, have been shown to alter the disease course and improve radiographic outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis. Once persistent disease activity is established, a DMARD agent should be considered. In general, these medications are well tolerated and under the care of your rheumatologist, can be managed safely.

There is a great deal of research over the last few years indicating that early treatmennt of RA leads to greater control of disease activity which may reduce in some patients the long-term disabling effects of RA.

However, patients always have the final decision in their course of treatment.

Alan Matsumoto, M.D.

About Alan Matsumoto, M.D.

Part-time Faculty, Division of Rheumatology
Johns Hopkins University