If you are one of the more than 200,000 Americans suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, you know just how unpredictable the condition can be. One day, you may wake up feeling like the high school version of yourself, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be in so much pain, you can barely get out of bed the next.

This is because the chronic inflammatory disorder tends to invoke the most swelling and discomfort when flare-ups occur, painful periods of time that are caused by a variety of issues, such as too much physical exercise or movement, poor sleep, infection, or even stress.

Of course, with RA, comes other, debilitating symptoms. When the autoimmune disease is not being properly managed or treated, for instance, patients risk developing more severe complications, such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid nodules, chronic dry eyes and mouth, an increased rate of infections, abnormal body composition, carpal tunnel, and even heart disease, lung problems, and lymphoma.

Because RA isn’t a disease that patients can just grin and bear, so to speak, it’s important that you do your part to manage all facets of the illness to the best of your ability. That said, there are a number of common pitfalls that many patients fall into, without even realizing it.

Ashira Blazer, MD, a rheumatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, says that she often sees her patients make three specific RA faux-pas, time and time again. Here’s what Dr. Blazer wants all RA patients to stop doing now:

  1. Ditching the prescribed drugs whenever they feel better

    Sure, it might be thrilling when flare-ups subside, but that doesn’t mean that you can just stop taking your RA meds whenever you’re feeling back to normal again. This is because RA is a chronic disease, that will, unfortunately, never leave you. When left to its own devices, it can wreak some serious havoc on the body–even when you might FEEL like you’re free of it. Part of following a comprehensive management plan is to always make sure that all prescribed drugs are taking consistently, no matter what.

  2. Taking steroids long-term

    If you’re an RA patient, chances are you have acquired at least a few doses of steroids that are currently sitting in your medicine cabinet. Though these pills might make you feel better, Dr. Blazer warns that the long-term use of them can cause much more harm than good. They can heighten the risk of heart attack, raise blood sugar, and even contribute to obesity.

  3. Obsessing over medication side effects

    Of course, no one wants to be on medication for the rest of their lives, but with a chronic autoimmune disorder like RA, it’s usually a necessity. Dr. Blazer promises that the risk of side effects is much lower than the risk of enduring a damaging disorder like RA, untreated. Best to be honest with your doc and stick with your treatment plan!

You’ve got a taste of these RA self-treatment blunders, but there’s still so much more information that Dr. Blazer has to share. To learn even more about these pitfalls and to get doctor-approved treatment recommendations that could help you get your rheumatoid arthritis under control, be sure to watch the video below. It’s time to take control of your RA!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these RA treatment mistakes. Are you guilty of making any of these? If so, which ones? Are you an RA patient who has any treatment tips that you would like to share?