Moderate rheumatoid arthritis

On June 3, 2015, Healthline hosted a Google+ Hangout with patient blogger Ashley Boynes-Shuck and board-certified rheumatologist Dr. David Curtis. The topic was managing moderate rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

As a health advocate focusing on arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, Ashley shares inspirational and helpful information about living with RA through her humorous blog, Arthritis Ashley, and her newly published book, “Sick Idiot.” Dr. Curtis sees patients dealing with various rheumatic diseases at his San Francisco private practice, but specializes in RA along with spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis.

Here are the four key takeaways from the Hangout:

1. Coping with RA

Everyone will handle their RA symptoms differently, but many people find that getting enough rest is key to coping with the condition. Dr. Curtis mentions, however, that some of his patients are still surprised by how RA impacts their day-to-day lives. You’ll likely feel limited by what you can do, both at home and at work, because of your pain and fatigue. Pacing yourself can make some of these activities easier.

2. Finding a treatment plan

The goal of treatment is to suppress the disease, but finding a treatment that works for you can take time. As Ashley knows firsthand, this can be frustrating, especially since flare-ups can “come out of nowhere.” Having an open and honest discussion with your rheumatologist is important to managing treatment. The two of you can work together to find a treatment plan that’s best for you.

3. Speaking up

While your first reaction may be to hide your symptoms, don’t be afraid to tell your family, friends, and coworkers about your RA. They’re probably looking for ways to help you. And being honest shows that you’re not embarrassed about your condition.

4. Connecting with others

While living with RA is challenging, know that you’re not alone. Talking about your symptoms and pain with someone who also has RA can be helpful. Try reaching out and finding a support group, either in your local community or online. You can also connect with other RA patients via social media. Just knowing that there are others who are dealing with similar issues can make you feel better about your condition. As Ashley says, while her blog helps others, it also helps her. Ask your rheumatologist about helpful resources and ask if there are any support groups in your local area.