FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)


Osteoarthritis is not a disease of the immune system. It is a condition that affects the bone, cartilage, joint lining, and ligaments. It tends to occur in the middle and older age groups. The “stiffness” caused by this form of arthritis tends to be short in duration after a period of inactivity. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is the most common type of “autoimmune” arthritis. It causes swelling and prolonged stiffness after inactivity in the involved joints. Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect many other organs besides the joints. Young and old can be stricken with RA.

This is a condition that causes widespread pain and is associated with a multitude of other complaints. There is no clear single cause, it is very common, women are more commonly affected but it can occur in men. It is often seen in individuals afflicted with chronic Rheumatic Diseases.. It tends to be chronic and there is no “cure” but the condition can be managed in most individuals.

A proper diagnosis is essential before it can be determined if any particular drug is “right” for you. The “right” drug is the one that works. Your Rheumatologist is the person best equipped to decide what disease you have, which drugs are appropriate for you and if they are working well. Your Rheumatologist is the most experienced person prescribing drugs in the treatment of Rheumatic Diseases and monitoring for potential side effects.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica is an inflammatory disease of older individuals causing muscular aching and stiffness around the shoulders and hips. Muscular stiffness in the morning is prolonged and improves with activity. Fatigue is a common complaint. Your Doctor may find that you have an elevated ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) and or elevated CRP (C reactive protein). These are blood tests that measure your body’s response to inflammation.

Listen to your Doctor. Stop asking your neighbor about your medical problems unless they are a Licensed Health Care Provider AND they are directly involved in your care. Steroids are a double edged sword: they can be your best friend and your worst enemy. If your rheumatic condition warrants the prescription of steroids for a prolonged period of time, your Rheumatologist may decide to start additional medications , DMARDS ( Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs) or Biologics (expensive drugs advertised on TV and in Magazines), to help control your disease and limit or eventually discontinue steroids. Your Rheumatologist will take steps necessary to limit or prevent side effects from steroids prescribed for as long as necessary to treat your condition. Trust your Doctor: they are your friend not your foe. They have been trained to help you.

SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) an autoimmune disease that can affect many organ systems in your body. It is more common in younger women but men can be affected as well. It is more common in people who have a Primary family member diagnosed with the same disease. It can present with a variety of complaints. A through history and physical examination along with laboratory testing can usually make the diagnosis. Occasionally patients present with a “stuttering” type of onset and the diagnosis is not initially clear. The disease can be mild or sometimes rather severe almost life threatening. A Rheumatologist is trained in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Often the care plan will be coordinated with other Specialists involved with the management of organ system specific manifestations in an individual patient.

Problems involving your jaw after a dental extraction are very rare especially if there is no history of head and neck cancer, radiation treatment, and you have good dental health. If a problem arises the drug can be held after a period of time dental work can proceed. Many individuals have successfully undergone dental procedure while taking drugs for osteoporosis without adverse consequence. Osteoporosis increases your risk of what we call "fragility fractures" that is fracture due to osteoporosis. This happens because the disease causes your bone to become weak and more prone to breaking with a low energy fall from a level surface.

"Atypical" or femoral shaft fractures have been rarely observed in some individuals. Some feel these fractures occur because of the long term affects of osteoporosis drugs on bone. The risk of a hip fracture arising from osteoporosis is much more likely than any atypical fracture occurring due to theoretical effects on bone from long term use of osteoporosis drugs. The goal of treatment is to prevent fractures not cause fracture. Regular follow up with your Physician will help ensure you are taking the drug correctly and doing everything else you need to do to help reduce your risk of fracture. Your doctor will reassess your fracture risk periodically and determine if your treatment is working or need modification.