Category Archives: Rheumatoid Arthritis

So what is rheumatoid Arthritis Like ?

I was diagnosed in early 2020 with Rheumatoid Arthritis, specifically psoriatic arthritis. At the time, I was not convinced of the diagnosis but the symptoms have been getting a lot worse now in early 2021 so I am convinced.

Symptoms :

  • ‘Bone pain’ – a deep ache seemingly from deep inside my limbs. Shoulders, arms, hands, legs and feet. Level varying from 1 – 5 out of 10. Especially bad in the mornings and evenings. Finding a comfortable position to sleep involves lots of wriggling to finally find that position with no pain. Its great for a few minutes and then it starts again. It takes me ages to sleep.
  • Specific pain – it began at the rear of my heels, I could not lay on my back because of heel pain, but now it has moved to fingers and toes. Level up to 7 / 10
  • Fatigue, exhaustion. All I could do was to lay down, too exhausted to read, watch Netflix, listen to the radio. Too tired to sleep.
  • Brain-fog – inability to think straight, to get the right words out. Clumsy. Easily upset. Depression, hiding.

So far I’ve tried hydroxychloroquine which seemed to enhance the symptoms, methotrexate tablets which made me rather sick and now methotrexate injections that wipe me out for 2 days and another 2 to recover. However, after 3 days of just starting steroids a lot of the aches have gone – steroids are not a long term solution.

How will I know that the medication is working ? I’m currently having biweekly blood tests showing two inflammatory markers and liver function indications. Hopefully the inflammatory markers will lower before the liver damage becomes significant. Its all a bit of a balance.

And the prognosis ? Well I hope to find a medication that will successfully blunt my immune system so that it stops attacking my joints and I can get back to some sort of normal life. There are a number of RA medications to try yet, all I need to do is to find one that works.

Methotrexate Injections

Methotrexate is a treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis. The standard way forward when you are diagnosed with RA is that your Rheumatologist will run you through a set of medications

  1. Hydroxychloroquine
  2. Methotrexate 15mg orally
  3. Methotrexate injections
  4. Humera

I’ve currently progressed to the Methotrexate Injections

Meth Injection

The manufacturer has a website with a video of how to use it : https://www.methofill.co.uk/patient

It was almost painless to use, much less painful that the sumatriptan injectors for migraines that I used to use. I did feel odd afterwards and was glad that I was in bed, the next day, Tuesday was nauseous and Wednesday was the usual migraine and generalised pain ( 4-6/10 ). Better by Friday I hope.

This is a 15mg injection, this should start to have an impact on my inflammatory markers ( ESR and CRP ) soon, but I have to keep an eye on liver breakdown protein to make sure that my liver does not take too much damage ( it can regenerate ? ). My Rheumatologist will increase the methotrexate injection amount as necessary. Blood tests every 2 weeks.

My adventures with methotrexate

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis early in 2020. This was unexpected as I thought my increasing aches and pains were due to fibromyalgia/CFS or something. I was a little sceptical about the RA diagnosis but went with it as my Rheumatology Consultant knew far more about this stuff than I did.

My blood test inflammatory markers ESR and CRP were both elevated, and I had a whole body scan after being injected with a radioactive marker, highlighting areas of bone damage.

After trying and giving up Hydroxychloroquine which make me rather tired and irritable, I was put onto Methotrexate. Interestingly, in the weeks between stopping Hydroxychloroquine and starting Methotrexate, my RA symptoms became much worse with general ache averaging 3/10 and specific pain up to 8/10.

I’m currently on my 6th dose of MTX ( 6 tablets ) and the effects are very unpleasant

  • nausea/vomiting on the 2nd/3rd day
  • Vicious migraine on the 3rd/4th day
  • appetite loss for most of the rest of the week ( this is good )
  • no noticeable effect on RA symptoms

I’m going to try for injectable MTX, and if that does not work, then some other DMARDs

https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/treatments/drugs/disease-modifying-anti-rheumatic-drugs-dmards/

All of this does seem to be the standard route for treating RA, trying cheaper/safer drugs to start with and then work on to the more difficult ones. Trying one drug, feeling terrible, stopping, feeling terrible, trying another drug does take a toll on the patient especially if they are trying to maintain a full time job.

Stopping the RA treatment is not really an option, as RA permanently damages the body, not just the joints but heart, lungs and other organs. If I’m not effectively treating the RA, my body is deteriorating.

So, my inflammatory markers : ESR is 53 ( normal = 30 ) and my CRP is 9 ( normal = 5 )

I’m waiting for these markers to start going down.