Who is your Treatment Team for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Dr John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses your treatment team for rheumatoid arthritis.

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Dr John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses your treatment team for rheumatoid arthritis.
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Featuring Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPCWho is your Treatment Team for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Duration: 2 minutes, 57 seconds

Rheumatoid arthritis is a relatively common, chronic autoimmune inflammatory condition affecting joints and other tissues in the body.  

Once an individual is on an algorithm of pharmacologic intervention, a treating rheumatologist will employ many other healthcare providers to help treat patients. The reason for this is because we're dealing with a chronic, long-term illness. And not only are there the physical complaints, but also psychosocial impact of chronic disease.  

Most of us will employ, first of all, a pharmacist to help with counseling around the medications, whether there may be interactions with the new medications and old medications, whether there may be toxicities, or if you have questions about what toxicities may be associated with certain anti-rheumatic therapies.  

The physical therapist is often mobilized early to not only educate the patient about their disease, but also to early mobilize joints which may have been affected and have a lot of pain or stiffness associated with them.  

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis also become quite physically debilitated. They've stopped doing many of their usual activities, both inside and outside the home. So the physiotherapist's role is key in getting these people back to proper function.  

Social workers often become involved in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis for vocational reasons. Patients may not be able to carry on their previous physically demanding work duties. And, as a result, retraining may be required or vocational rehabilitation. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is also a chronic disease, which has a psychological impact on individuals. And social work can help with counseling and aiding from that perspective. 

The disease itself, to cause that much inflammation, absorbs and utilizes energy. And many individuals, before they're treated, will have lost weight just secondary to chronic inflammation. A dietitian's role is very important in getting people back strong and fit again and able to function within and with outside the home.  

It is associated with other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. For reasons which are not entirely clear, individuals with rheumatoid arthritis have accelerated atherosclerosis, and a dietitian's role in helping minimize or mitigate these features is key. 

This is a chronic disease. In most individuals, it lasts a lifetime. And not only is it associated with signs and symptoms of disease, such as pain and stiffness, but also loss of physical function. The loss of physical function can affect one within one's own home, outside the home, such as a job or looking after others.

And if we don't allow or have other individuals helping out in these areas, those functions will be lost and not gained back just by treating the disease itself.  

Presenter: Dr. John Watterson, Rheumatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.