Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis


Suffering From Rheumatoid Arthritis

During the third year of medical school, I started feeling pain over the joints of my hands and feet. At first, the pain was intermittent and mild. My friends advised me to visit a doctor but I kept it in bay thinking it was a result of my constant writing habit and standing for an extended amount of time.

Day after day, the pain intensified and with that the popping of paracetamol increased as well. I noticed the pain to be excruciating and wondered something was wrong with my joints. My friend even suggested it to be arthritis,but we presumed it to be a mere third-year syndrome, like any other medical student.

Rheumatoid arthritis

One early morning, I couldn’t ignore how hard it was for my hands to move,and the joints were tender. The pain was unbearable and this was my tipping point. I went to see a doctor. The doctor prescribed me analgesics and advised me for some laboratory investigations. My ESR had increased, but the Rheumatoid factor was negative. Aligning the signs and symptoms, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I was in disbelief for being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that too in my early 20s. After the diagnosis, it became clearer why I was experiencing extreme fatigue and felt as if I had no energy to involve in any sorts of activities.

Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

I was started on DMARDs,namely hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate after a thorough evaluation of my eyesight by an ophthalmologist. Though there is no cure for this disease, the activity of the disease can be lowered, and a person can have remission. On the brighter side, my medications started working and the pain subsided. However, flare-ups do occur which can last for days to weeks.

There are days when you just cannot jot down the notes in your classes due to pain. There are days when you feel like the pain is the only permanent thing in your life. There are days when you are scared while studying the diseases with risk factors written as RA. 

But, you have no choice but to overcome the hassles that usually wouldn’t occur. Self-care with regular exercise, proper diet and managing stress is key to have control over RA. The compliance to medications prescribed and regular follow ups also plays an important role. Come this pandemic, I haven’t been able to follow up but I hope the regular prescription will work just fine.

RA has given me a new perspective on life. It has been about a year since my diagnosis and it is difficult sometimes when you look completely fine on outside yet, you are experiencing an excruciating amount of pain and have to follow up with your doctor every three months.Nonetheless, I have finally come to terms with it being a part of me, and that I have to live with it.

Manisha Shrestha
Medical Student


  1. I started to have pain in my right hand since I got admitted in 1st year. Had various investigations like X-ray hand, esr, ncv all came to normal. Was on naproxen for about 6 months. Used to wear wrist splint in my 1st year days. But it didn’t get cured. Its still undiagnosed though I visited orthopedics and internal medicine faculty multiple times. I am 5 th year student now, the symptoms still continues. Worsens more during exams.

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