Rheumatoid Arthritis patient needs better understanding

Prof. (Dr) O P Garg, VSM, MD
Post Doct- Rheumatology (AIIMS)
(Trained in MSK ultrasound, arthroscopy & pain medicine)

It is about an incurable disease of joints called Rheumatoid arthritis which generally affects younger people, mostly female population and can cripple you if not controlled in time by a rheumatologist, a MD physician trained to treat more than 100 different types of arthritis.

DEFORMED JOINTS due to  ==>>

Comment by Victor Rodrigue:

In India I wish the doctors would share more information about the illness and treatment with the patients. Many times ignorance about the illness leads patients to quacks. Especially in case of RA which is incurable in allopathy, many Indians try alternative forms of medicine which only worsens their health. Allopathic doctors tend to withhold crucial info from the patients, leading patients to fall prey to false promises of the quacks.

My answer:

While being Rheumatologist I try to make all the efforts while dealing with my patients during the consultation. I make sure that my patients leave in a better state of mind than they came in. I always take care that I should never increase their sufferings by my actions, words or behaviour.

Patients, are simple suffering souls, they go to a doctor to find solution to their problems not for fun. It is a different issue that, perhaps, if we doctors are not able to reach to a diagnosis, we assume that there is no problem. Most of the time patient is really suffering and just that we are not able to see that problem. That, really is because of our personal inefficiencies or scientific inadequacies. I have learnt during my professional endeavors that 2+2 are not always 4. So, we must learn to see beyond our inadequacies and beyond the not-so-complete scientific knowledge while trying to find solution to a patient’s problem.

Mr. Victor Rodrigue has truly echoed immensely correct feelings about the incurability of Rheumatoid arthritis, but about doctors not sharing more information with patients thus, leading them to try alternative medicines beyond allopathy, I have mixed feelings.

1. Whenever I diagnose a disease condition like rheumatoid arthritis or any other rheumatological condition, I always make a point to hammer in the mind of the patient but politely, that the disease is going to stay in most of the patients. But to allay the anxiety coming with the new knowledge of incurable disease, I compare Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with other diseases like Diabetes and hypertension, and tell them that although it is incurable, but inflammation caused by it which is the cause of all symptoms and pain, and also the damage, can be easily controlled and they can lead a comfortable life. But there is need for a regular follow up with your Rheumatologist who is the only medical professional trained enough to treat these diseases.

2. I also tell them all the facts so that they do not fall prey to the quacks. I emphasize the play of time; time is the greatest denominator in the development of deformity. If inflammation of the joints is not controlled adequately by scientifically proved medicine at early stage of the disease, it will lead to irreversible damage to the joints.

3. I also tell them that no therapy has been proved to be curative so far, and it is better to remain under the umbrella of scientific rheumatological medicines prescribed and monitored by a rheumatologist.

4. But it is not that simple, people and their relatives have faith in different types of medical systems. Cost of therapy is also a concern, so patients go to various systems of medicine and try to find an invisible cure. All this does is losing precious time.

5. Story always remains the same, patients remaining under the care of rheumatologist do far better. Those not, go from one system to another losing precious time, continuously damaging their joints, and finally return to a rheumatologist in crippling state.

6. Hence, I say that my comments are mixed as even if doctors tell the patient the truth and whole story, patients still go and try various systems of medicine in search of an ultimate cure. Generally it is not a personal decision, it is a family decision. They also believe that if a doctor cannot cure your ailment permanently, doctor is no good, let’s try another…

7. However, I agree that if knowledgeable doctor, rheumatologist for joint diseases, finds time to explain the disease and its dangers of not following modern medicine, story may be different one.

8. It is also my sincere request to patients who have experienced the disease and understand its various aspects to be a social ambassador with a mission to save joints. Joints, which are the basic transport of the human body, play no lesser part in the well being of human, actually much more than even the other vital organ systems.

9. I am always available to anybody who seeks my opinion to lessen their sufferings. I will always do my best within my limitations.


  1. Sujata Agarwal