Keeping rheumatoid arthritis in check – start early to save your joints

Taking the first step and getting medical help for joint pain can be hard, but for autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, delaying treatment can lead to increased permanent joint damage and disability.

New information and resources from the Targeted Therapies Alliance, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, provide people with information about the rheumatoid arthritis journey from diagnosis to treatment.

Suzanne Blogg is a Sydney woman living with rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome who features in a new consumer video titled ‘Living with methotrexate’. Suzanne is one of our team members at NPS MedicineWise and volunteered her time to talk about her treatment journey and the impact methotrexate has had on her Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Methotrexate is one of a class of medicines called DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) that can slow or halt the progression of the disease and is usually the first medicine treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. The video is intended to help people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis to understand more about the potential treatment options for the condition.

“I thought I could get away with treating my rheumatoid arthritis with turmeric, flaxseed oil and high dose vitamin C – all the things people will tell you about when you are first diagnosed,” said Mrs Blogg.

“I was in constant pain from the condition and I couldn’t even dress myself. I realised that what I was doing was not going to cut it. Many people I trusted were advising me that I can’t replace my joints or repair the damage that had already occurred, and I decided to start treatment with methotrexate.

“It took about 12 weeks for all my symptoms to go. This medicine works for me, and now I don’t need to fear a life of disability,” she said.

The video about Suzanne’s experience with methotrexate is complemented by a number of other resources from the Targeted Therapies Alliance about rheumatoid arthritis and two other types of inflammatory arthritis – psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

The resources include a ‘Roadmap’ for each of the conditions, which explains to people what to expect in the diagnosis and management of their inflammatory arthritis, including self-management techniques, the use of medicines and appointments with the healthcare team.

A low-dose methotrexate action plan has been developed to clear some of the myths about methotrexate and encourage people with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis to discuss treatment with their rheumatologist.

Further resources include a decision-making tool to support people with rheumatoid arthritis to feel more informed and clearer about what matters most when considering reduction of so-called ‘biological’ or ‘targeted’ medicines (bDMARDs and tsDMARDs).

“Through our videos, roadmaps and action plans we want to empower people to take an active role in the management of their inflammatory arthritis in collaboration with their health professionals,” says NPS MedicineWise CEO Adj A/Prof Steve Morris.

“Treatments for inflammatory arthritis can be complex,” CEO of Arthritis Australia Jonathan Smithers says. “These resources provide practical tools and information to help people understand their medical treatment, as well as other strategies they can use to manage their condition.’

For more consumer information on Targeted Therapies Alliance program, visit the Rheumatology conditions for consumers page.

Organisations representing specialists, pharmacists, consumers and research experts make up the Targeted Therapies Alliance. With funding from the Australian Department of Health, the alliance provides stewardship and direction around the safe and wise use of specialised medicines used to manage inflammatory arthritis.

Read more about the Targeted Therapies Alliance.


    Media contact

    Matthew Harris, NPS MedicineWise Communications & PR adviser: (02) 8217 9229, 0419 618 365 or [email protected]