Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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Good advisor

Chemotherapy is most often associated with cancer treatment, but it is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which your own body mounts an immune attack on your joints. 

chemotherapy hospital

 
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, this immune response causes inflammation and pain in the joints, particularly in the hands and feet. It can also affect the heart and lungs. 
 
The chemotherapy drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis are called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. Pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen patients use to relieve pain and inflammation only treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but DMARDs treat the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis by changing the body’s immune response so it will stop attacking the joints, explains Healthgrades. 
 
While chemotherapy is effective for rheumatoid arthritis, symptom relief can take months, and there are many potential side effects. Your physician will monitor your progress and occasionally take a blood sample. You may need to try a few different drugs before finding the best one. 
 
The most common chemotherapy drug used in rheumatoid arthritis treatment is methotrexate
 
According to Drugs.com, methotrexate can produce a long list of side effects. Some of the the minor side effects include:
* temporary hair loss
* decreased appetite
* nausea and vomiting
* skin rashes
* acne
 
More severe side effects warrant an immediate consultation with your physician. These severe side effects include, but are not limited to:
* bloody vomit and stool
* joint pain
* mouth sores
* stomach pain
* diarrhea
* swelling in the legs
* blurred vision
* dizziness
* fever and chills
* shortness of breath
* convulsions
 
Two other drugs, Imuran and Cytoxin, are less commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, says WebMD. These drugs can produce more severe, life-threatening side effects than methotrexate. 
 
The American College of Rheumatology recommends that all patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis be treated early with chemotherapy because early treatment slows down the damage to joints. People who start treatment early are more likely to keep joints functioning for a longer period of time. 
 
Have you tried chemotherapy for your RA? How did you find it?
 

Beginning of the discussion - 12/05/2016

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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Been just put on methotrexate for my arthritis so worried about side effects wondering if someone else is taking it and could explain how they feel thanks

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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Hi I am on methotrexate and I can honestly say I have suffered no side effects.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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I am on methotrexate also, no noticeable side effects x

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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Hi

I started taking methotrexate a year ago ,I have had no pain since I  started the medication  ,But I do have very bad nausea & feel very sleepy but only for about 24 hours ..then I go back to normal ,I had a bit of Hair loss but that is back to normal also ..Few side effects are noting to the pain i used to get .Good Luck !

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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methotrexate - Ive never heard of this ?! or been offered it as a treatment.  Do you have to be very ill before you are offered this treatment - I am in Ireland - was diagnosed in 2010 and I have pain in my hands / fingers and I dont know if this is connected but have had pain in my elbows and and pins and needles down lower arms

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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I have taken methotrexate for about 7 years now if not longer. I took tablets for years then, injection form into the tops of my legs I couldnt deal with the injections on a weekly basis went back to tablets 8 a week. Makes me feel nauseous everytime I take them, I split the dosage over two nights Friday and Saturday and then feel back to normal for work on Monday. I don't feel like doing anything at the weekend and feel tired etc. About 3 years ago this began not working and I now go to hospital for infusions lasting 6 hours over 2 courses Ritoxamab.  This has greatly helped but it is the next stage up and I still have to take methotrexate. Every person is not the same.  

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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I've been taking Methotrexate for 8 years now, in conjunction with Humira (adalimumab), and have had no real side affects.  Hair loss was an issue but my specialist suggested increasing the folic acid and splitting the dosage twice weekly which has had a dramatic effect. I agree that tiredness can be an issue but taking my medication at bedtime really helps.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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I'm in Ireland and was diagnosed 2 years ago. Was put on methotrexate immediately and was very nauseous for days afterwards.  Then started folic acid to combat the nausea.  I take it for 3 days after methotrexate.  It helps but the tiredness for 24 hours is still bad. I'm now on rituximab infusion twice yearly so with the two RA is under control . 

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Risks and Benefits of Chemotherapy Treatments

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I have been on methotrexate for many years now and it has gradually increased over the years. I can honestly say that I have had no side effects. I do however take folic acid 6 days a week and also plaquenil. The RA is under control but pain from OA & Fibro so always tired and sleep little. Hope this helps