For thousands of years and across many cultures, marijuana, or cannabis, was touted as possessing medicinal properties. And its use for both medicinal and recreational purposes is gaining in popularity in recent times. Some activists are advocating its use for rheumatoid arthritis. My desire is that RA patients will carefully consider all treatments for their disease. The topic must be raised in public forums and from scientific perspectives. I realize that this article will likely bring about a slate of responses, both for and against. Such is a nature of controversial topics…
…read the rest of this post at http://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/medical-marijuana-a-viable-option-for-the-treatment-of-ra/
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged rheumatoid arthritis, FDA, pain, research, treatment, marijuana, nausea | 8 Comments »
When first diagnosed with RA over five years ago, I was prescribed oral methotrexate (MTX). After a month of taking the pills, I felt terrible and was basically non-functional. It felt like a truck ran over me as I had no energy, felt sick at my stomach non-stop, and had headaches. The RA symptoms were bad enough but this just added insult to injury. My rheumatologist finally told me that I clearly could not tolerate the drug and to stop taking it. The side effects subsided within a few weeks.
Several years later, and with a different rheumatologist, I asked about taking MTX injections because I was desperately trying to find a treatment combination that worked. It was recommended to add MTX with the biological medicines I was taking as the combination of the two typically produces better results. I started take methotrexate via weekly self-injection and found that the nausea side effects were much less than with oral pills. I seemed to tolerate the MTX much better when injecting it and adding both folic acid and leucovorin. I rarely felt nausea and did not loose any hair.
But an increase in migraine headaches over the past year coincided with the time I started taking MTX. While not one of the more commonly reported side effects like nausea or hair loss, headaches can come from taking MTX.[i] [ii] As my neurologist stated, the causes of the migraines are likely based on multiple factors including genetics, my fight with RA, and the medicines I take. During the past few months when the headaches increased in number, I completely stopped taking methotrexate in an effort to eliminate any possible triggers. We’ve been able to reduce the number of migraines through the use of gabapentin, a drug used for neuropathic pain, and botox injections (no, I don’t look any younger!). My rheumatologist suggested that I start retaking methotrexate by beginning with low doses initially and then increase back up to the dose I was taking before. I waited until I had been headache free for two weeks and then injected MTX. Within 48 hours I began to get migraines and fought off four bad headaches over the next five days. While it’s hard to determine direct cause and effect, this was enough for me to wonder if MTX was indeed a migraine trigger. I did not inject MTX the next week and did not have any bad migraines. I contacted my rheumy and she suggested I just stop MTX altogether. The good news is that during this time, Rituxan infusions that I started last September were starting to work at controlling my RA and this was during the time I had stopped taking MTX.
So for the time being, I’ll just stick with Rituxan as my main RA treatment. And I’ll be sitting in the infusion center this Wednesday starting my second series of doses.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged biologicals, headache, infusion, injection, methotrexate, migraine, RA, rheumatologist, Rituxan, side effects | 14 Comments »
Dr. Robert Plenge is one of the world’s foremost rheumatoid arthritis researchers. He recently led a team of international scientists who conducted a large genetic study about RA. They discovered 40 new genetic areas related to increased risk of RA that may eventually led to new treatments. These results were published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature. Dr. Plenge agreed to participate in an exclusive question and answer interview with Rheumatoidarthrititis.net Patient Advocate Andrew Lumpe.
Q. What drove you to delve into the mysteries of rheumatoid arthritis?
A. As a practicing clinical rheumatologist…
…read the rest of the interview at http://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/an-interview-with-world-renowned-ra-researcher-dr-robert-plenge/
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
February 2 is Rheumatoid Awareness Day. In honor of this day, I put together a list awareness dreams…
- I dream of a day when all rheumatologists treat-2-target and more patients achieve or get closer to clinical remission.
- I dream that autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid disease receive as much or more research funds than other more popular diseases including cancer and heart disease (long ways to go there).
- I dream of a time when I never have to hear dumb comments like, “Oh, I have RA in my little finger” or “You’re too old to have RA.”
- I dream of a time when rheumatoid disease, which impacts millions of Americans, receives a most favored status in terms of awareness and funding.
- I dream of more effective treatments and ultimately a cure for this insidious disease. While biologicals have helped many, too many continue to suffer.
- I dream of a time when all primary care doctors know when they observe symptoms of rheumatoid disease and quickly refer patients to rheumatologists.
- I dream that all rheumatologists will treat rheumatoid disease aggressively and monitor carefully.
- I dream that all rheumatology researchers will take the patient perspective into account when designing, carrying out, and reporting research.
- I dream that genetics can be used to play a role in personalizing treatment options.
You can read other blogger’s post about Rheumatoid Awareness Day at http://rawarrior.com/what-would-rheumatoid-awareness-mean-to-you/
Check out the Rheumatoid Awareness Day Facebook Page.
Read more about the day at the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation site.
Get involved and spread awareness about Rheumatoid Disease!
Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »
As the New Year comes upon us, it’s time to reflect on the previous year and consider the upcoming year. Here is a summary of topics from this blog – both general and personal.
- I got involved with the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation by volunteering on patient research projects resulting in a paper presentation at the 2012 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) conference.
- There is a plethora of information about RA on the internet and patients must be wise and judicious consumers.
- I’ve been through a wide variety of medications and am currently on my 7th biological (Rituxan infusions plus methotrexate injections).
- In spite of the enormous impact of RA on society, proportionally more research funding goes to other diseases like cancer and heart disease.
- The actual cost of biological medicines continues to befuddle me. But I’m thankful for pharmaceutical company co-pay assistance programs.
- Cytokines from RA biological processes can make one feel “sick”.
- Through all the ups and downs of RA, hope must be continually sought after.
- RA is a heterogeneous disease…it’s not the same in every patient.
- Obamacare stands to bring about huge changes in the cost of healthcare for those with chronic diseases.
- Deciding when to switch RA treatments must be made with careful thought and care.
- RA should be treated early and aggressively.
- There may be links between RA and periodontal disease.
- Stem cell treatment for RA is not yet a reality but some are working on it.
- Refractory RA, disease that doesn’t respond to treatment, is actually quite common.
- Biosimilars, generics for biologic medicines are right around the corner.
- RA impacts soft tissues in addition to bone.
- Cardiovascular and metabolism issues can be linked to RA.
- RA continues to be mis-portrayed in the media.
Thanks to all those who took time to read and comment on this blog. I wish everyone a wonderful and healthy 2014!
Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »