Sukibear Member Posts: 3
edited 28. Nov 2023, 14:07 in Living with arthritis

I have recently been diagnosed with late age Arthritis at 73. I am an active person who doesn’t have to take any medicines so I am just in shock. I don’t tolerate tablets well and after reading side effects am not sure I want to take them. The side effect of lowered immune system particularly worries me in these Covid times. Do I have to take them, have people managed without them?


  • Hi @Sukibear, welcome to the online community! It’s lovely to have you here.

    I see that you’ve been recently diagnosed with arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis?). And that you have some concerns about the possible side-effects of methotrexate, especially the effects of immune suppression.

    To try to answer your question, there are drugs other than methotrexate that can be prescribed for RA, which you can read about here:

    They all do have their pros and cons, and it might take a few tries to find the right treatment for you - one that works the best for your condition while minimising side-effects. Some good advice I have heard is to keep a diary or notes to help your rheumatologist to understand your needs in regards to treatment. Like some other RA treatments, methotrexate does suppress your immune system, and that is what makes it so effective, but it does mean you have to be careful to reduce your risks of infection.

    It’s great to hear that you are physically active – building muscle strength and keeping your joints lubricated by exercising can be really beneficial for people living with arthritis. Swimming is especially good as it doesn’t put too much strain on the joints. There is also a series of guided exercises made by Versus Arthritis, here is the link in case you are interested:

    You’re not alone in being worried about the effects of medications, especially during the pandemic, and you will find lots of people here can empathise. Please do keep posting and commenting on the online community.

    Best wishes, Sarah (moderator)

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,425

    Hi @Sukibear

    People have and do manage without DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic drugs) of which MTX is one, but very often the most likely to control the disease.

    You have to weigh up the options for yourself in the end as we all do. How much is your RA affecting you? Most of us are in so much pain and it is affecting our joints to such a level that we are desperate to find something to help.

    I was told that the theory is that you only take enough of your DMARD to dampen down your immune system to similar levels to most people. So far (touch wood) I have been very lucky and avoided the dreaded COVID using standard measures, handwashing, hand gels, masks opening windows and taking regular lateral flows (making visitors do the same) etc, but can totally see why you are concerned.

    If things aren't so bad you might ask for one of the 'milder' DMARDs instead until COVID has settled down a bit? You really don't want to risk permanent joint damage if you can help it.

    Whatever you decide to do we are here and will help if we can take care now

  • Sukibear
    Sukibear Member Posts: 3

    Thank you so much for replying. I will ask if there are other tablets when I next see the Consultant.

  • Arthuritis
    Arthuritis Member Posts: 444

    @Sukibear I am on 400mg Hydroxychloroquine daily and 5mg MTX, (to rise to 15) the combo allowing lower level of mtx. Does not get rid of joint pain/weakness, but makes it bearable. I also take 2.5mg prednisolone at night, which is unusual, but it takes the edge off the nightly attacks and allows me to sleep. (Steroids are temporary until the DMARDS kick in).