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Learning to Control Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • January 1, 2006
  • Number of views: 2178

When Margaret Meyer first began developing arthritis, she thought it was just a part of the aging process.

"It was stiffness here, stiffness there, and you think you can shake it off and keep going,"says Meyer, 61, of Belleville, IL. "Suddenly it just took longer for me to function."

When her doctor diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis while she was still in her 40s, she was shocked.

"I thought it can''t be arthritis — that''s an old people''s disease," says Meyer. "I had two little kids to raise."

While rheumatoid arthritis affects nearly two million Americans, there''s no cure-all. Different therapies work for different patients. So when Meyer was diagnosed, she chose Washington University rheumatologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

With access to the most current clinical trials, the staff includes a number of national and regional experts in a program nationally recognized as a leader in advancing the understanding and treatment of rheumatologic disorders.

One of those experts is Leslie E. Kahl, MD, Washington University rheumatologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "Most people with rheumatoid arthritis need a combination of medications both to treat the day-to-day symptoms and also to get the disease under control," says Dr. Kahl. "Mrs. Meyer was one of those patients."

Dr. Kahl tried several different therapies for Meyer before a new medication finally proved effective for daily pain relief.

"In her case, even a combination of high doses of several of the most potent drugs was barely working," says Dr. Kahl. "Ultimately, she began treatment with a new agent, one which had recently been studied here in clinical trials, and her arthritis responded rapidly and completely."

"Dr. Kahl treats her patients like real people," says Meyer. "She has been a warrior for arthritis."

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