Advertisement

Why It's So Important to Stick to Your RA Treatment Plan

Why It's So Important to Stick to Your RA Treatment Plan

Missing doses of rheumatoid arthritis treatment can put your health at risk

We all know the feeling: You get to the pharmacist, prescription in hand, and nervously wait for the technician to tell you how much your new meds will cost. For most people, that trip won't put you out thousands of dollars, but that could be your reality if you're living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). To an outsider, that heavy investment seems like being handcuffed to your treatment. Often, though, the concerns are much deeper than your wallet.

In two studies published by Rheumatology in 2014 and 2015, up to 40% of people with RA didn't properly take their anti-TNF medication at some point during their treatment -- sometimes even within the first 6 months. While other research has shown that prescription drug bills can be a barrier for some people with RA, these studies looked at other reasons. They found that people were more likely to take their meds correctly when they understood their disease and truly believed they needed the drug.

Anti-TNF drugs, such as biologics, can reverse the grip that arthritis has on the millions of people who have RA. The problem with skipping doses is that you don't get a full chance at feeling better. It decreases the effectiveness of the drug, so you don't know for sure if your RA treatment is working. It can also make your symptoms worse and last longer.

Sticking to treatment, on the other hand, gives you improved physical function and a higher chance at remission. Plus, it helps slow down the disease and may keep you from needing more aggressive treatment down the road. This is why it's so important to talk to your doctor to better understand your medication and how to get the best results.

Asking your doctor these four questions may help you get the treatment you need:

  • Why do I need this drug, and what will happen if I don't take it?
  • What side effects should I expect, and what can be done to make them less bothersome?
  • Where can I get support to help me stick with treatment and healthy habits?
  • How can I get help paying for my medication?

The bottom line: It doesn't matter how expensive or powerful your medication is when it's not helping you manage your RA. Always take it as prescribed by your doctor for your best chance at remission.

Medically reviewed in April 2020.

When to Consider Combination Therapy for RA
When to Consider Combination Therapy for RA
Modern rheumatoid arthritis care focuses on early, aggressive treatment—and one popular treatment option is therapy with disease-modifying antirheumat...
Read More
Can rheumatoid arthritis be prevented?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
Preventing rheumatoid arthritis is, at this time, unlikely, since its cause remains unknown. Some fa...
More Answers
Get to Know Rheumatoid Arthritis
Get to Know Rheumatoid ArthritisGet to Know Rheumatoid ArthritisGet to Know Rheumatoid ArthritisGet to Know Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are Potatoes and Tomatoes Bad for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Are Potatoes and Tomatoes Bad for Rheumatoid Arthritis?