Can I Delay Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis? part 2 | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Can I Delay Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis? part 2

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Is it safe to delay Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment?

If you re-phrase this question six different ways, and search using Google, you will get a lot of good information about why Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment should NOT be delayed. So, I guess that’s the Google-vote. But most of us do not make decisions based upon a Google-vote. We need more rationale than that. So, why do some delay treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis? Let’s examine a few reasons.


The side effects to RA medications are startling to behold. Perhaps there is fear that the medication will be worse that the Rheumatoid Arthritis. There may also be a misconception that RA medications are all addicting and will cause lifelong dependence.

Most of the time, the best therapy for fear is information. For example, medicines prescribed for disease control (DMARDs) for RA are not considered addictive. And learning about what Rheumatoid Arthritis can do to a body goes a long way toward making the medicines sound downright safe.

Of course they are not completely safe; but neither is driving a car, walking across the street, or eating rare meat. However, all of them are safer that living with untreated Rheumatoid Arthritis.


Not knowing what to do can make any problem worse. So much is unknown when it comes to Rheumatoid Arthritis. We don’t know what causes it. And we can’t say why some fare so much better than others.

However, evidence is piling up that early and aggressive treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis may be our only hope to reduce future disability. Listen to the doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital: “Early treatment may significantly control the course of the disease…” And NIH says: “Early, aggressive treatment for RA can delay joint destruction.”

No, they can’t tell you why you have RA. They can’t tell you how bad it will get. The cause and the cure are both uncertain. The only thing that is certain is that studies have shown that for some RA-ers, early treatment can slow damage.

Remitting RA:

Rheumatoid Arthritis that remits is more difficult to track. For those who have remitting RA, the disease can lessen at times so that life seems normal. Palindromic Rheumatism (or Palindromic RA) can remit for even long periods. One can go crazy trying to figure out what brings on flares or remissions. However, if Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms are recurrent, it is important to get thorough exams to determine whether damage is occurring.


Sometimes it seems like relief is an impossible dream. Going on the RA meds is akin to wrestling with windmills. Even the folks we know who are using DMARDs have not gotten well. Why take all the risks if it might not even help?

That’s a really tough one. There is NO promise that the medicines will even work! But, some things are sure: Hope can grow stronger if we work at it. And it is worth the trouble because God has a purpose for each of us. Your loved ones need you to survive. Every life is worth living.


As I explained in yesterday’s post, it is actually very easy to convince yourself that you are not sick enough to need treatment. Of course, nobody really wants to believe that they are sick enough to need chemotherapy. Actually, you can get a lot of help in this: others would also prefer to believe that you are not that sick.

Denial is useful as a mechanism for managing crises. It is an excellent temporary help in times of tragedy. However, it tends to wear out its welcome… When the time has come to deal with a problem, we might have to throw denial out like bad food.


Maybe you know other reasons. Please use the comment box to tell us about them.

Recommended reading:

Remember: 60-2-3. That’s 60%; 2 years; 3 months
“Studies have shown that damage to joints occurs in 60% of people with rheumatoid arthritis within 2 years. Because irreversible joint damage, chronic pain, and long-term disability can occur if rheumatoid arthritis is not diagnosed and treated early, it is now recommended that a person with rheumatoid arthritis see a …rheumatologist within the first 3 months after symptoms appear. As soon as rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed, early treatment includes medications known as …DMARDs.” (University of Kansas Hospital)

Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/

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84 thoughts on “Can I Delay Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis? part 2

  • February 21, 2015 at 2:19 am

    I was diagnosed with reactive RA over a year ago (I am 48) & the pain at times is unbearable it also moves around from feet to wrists to shoulders & now in my hips at the moment which are painfully stiff after resting,, then ease off when I am mobile, swollen & crooked finger. I have been prescribed Methotrexate back in December & it is still sitting on the shelf as I am terrified to start it. In the meantime I have been finishing off a work project which entails overseas work for weeks on end so committing to Methotrexate is difficult as the medication is prescribed weekly along with the blood tests I would be unable to continue working, I did receive a cortisone injection back at Xmas time but fear it is wearing off & the pains are returning,, although I am trying to grin & bear it shoving co-codamol down my neck plus Naproxen 500mg twice a day I feel I cannot suffer any longer,,,,, I only have 4 weeks to finish off my work project then the plan is to take the rest of the year off but I am struggling at the moment & my mobility is starting to be affected my body is basically telling me to stop. I have so many reservations in starting Methotrexate, I currently have a black cloud following me & life quality is going down the drain fast,, it is time to give in & go on the treatment,,, my days of world travel & work are over.

  • January 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I was 22 year old in San Francisco working late night shifts, no insurance, and my family was abroad. I could’ve gone to the hospital and got treated at very early stage, but I simply didn’t have the knowledge. Foot pain is supposed to go away; never imagined I’ll need a doctor for anything.

    For 2 years I’ve tried all sorts of traditional medicine, Magnet therapy, Crystal something, Acupuncture, changing my diet…and every temporary solutions I can get my hands on, just to avoid taking the steroids that the clinic prescribed me.

    Later I moved to Taiwan where the medical system is well-developed and available. I continued to seek alternative medicine and met a doctor who is conducting mineral-therapy inside of the hospital, on hundreds of patients. He prescribed 5 different kinds of cold-medicine to me and I believe that greatly delayed my treatment of RA.

    Now that I’m on Methotraxate and all that, I have a hard time believing how many opinions out there can cause early RA patients to delay their treatments. It didn’t register to me that early aggressive treatment is crucial, and it hurts to think that there are many people out there delaying their treatment, at this moment.

  • January 20, 2016 at 12:56 am

    I’m a 33 year old female who has been recently diagnosed with RA and prescribed 2 medications by my doctor 3 weeks ago. I have yet to start them because I feel so alone and hesitant about how to handle all this. Anyone here willing to chat or recommend a good message board for advice please message me. Thank you

  • February 2, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Hi, my name is Barbara am taking Methotrexats and predisone and it has giving me life again. I did not get any side effects, i guess am one of the lucky ones. But i wish there was another way to help me with this disease .

  • March 28, 2016 at 1:08 am

    My old,rheumatologists said,it,wasn’t bad enough to treat…I went on like that for 12 years. Treatment could’ve saved me a lot of misery.

    Note: the amount of MTX we take…even me with 25mg…is a small fraction of what people take for blood cancers. Any treatment can be risky, but they’re much smaller.

    The injection works so much better for me with minor nausea with a dose increase. It is so much better.

    My doc has me taking folic acid every day, and skipping MTX if I’m sick.

  • March 28, 2016 at 1:13 am

    Also, after almost five years, Prednisome messed up my blood, giving me an astronomical neutrophil count and low lymphocyte count as well as high platelets and liver enzymes. I was at risk for eye problems, osteoporosis, and excessive weight gain was an issue. I had a very hard time getting off and it took over a year.

  • September 1, 2016 at 8:19 am

    I was diagnosed with RA almost 2 years ago, it has taken over a year of seeing rheumatologist to decide maybe I should take methotrexate, I have COPD , IBS(D) , and microscopic colitis , and I take steroids for the copd and the colitis, I also have advanced osteoarthritis, all this along with depression and severe anxiety I deal with daily. I have had many adverse reactions to medications, plaquenil caused anorexia which I’ve been struggling to get weight back on since Nov. of last year. I am just now recovering from a recent digestive upset in which my stomach was not emptying properly, and lost a lot of weight again, so YES I’m scared to take methotrexate. I’m allergic to NSAIDS, they attack my liver. so my options for pain are limited. I just feel it’s too risky for me to take a medication with a history of causing digestive problems and lung problems. I’m right now dealing with bronchitis. My Rheumatologist is running blood work and also testing me for Lupus. I cannot handle any more digestive upset, I’m already skin and bones. Each time I see this doctor, she first lets me know how hectic work is , and she can’t keep up,,, this does not give me a good feeling about her paying attention to all my health issues. ( I cannot change doctors because I am on medicaid and no one is taking new medicaid patients now ) I remember her saying my first visit that methotrexate would not be a good idea,,,and yesterday she prescribed it. sigh…. yes,,,I’m scared. I am on my own, and if I get sicker, I have no one to turn to for help.

  • February 27, 2020 at 1:34 am

    My RA started palindromic style. I had been a vegetarian for 10 years before it started. It began when I was 40 and now I’m 62. I guess I’m lucky, I’ve always believed that my healthy diet and active life have been a key part of my well being,. My RF and Anti-CCp are of the scale or very strong positive, so meds for me are a necessary evil, but I’ve only come to this conclusion in the last 6 years when my disease became more active and progressive.


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