Arthritis Medication Contingency Planning 

Planning for unexpected events is an important part of sticking to your treatment plan.

Following your arthritis medication regimen is an important part of keeping your disease under control.  Unfortunately, unexpected disruptions are always possible – from a virus outbreak, to a delayed approval from your insurance company or the unexpected closure of your doctor’s office.  That’s why it’s important to have an emergency plan in place. Here are some steps you can take to plan ahead and stay as healthy as possible.  

Do a Medication Audit 
Being proactive has helped Stephanie Livingston, who was diagnosed with arthritis as a teenager, maintain continuity of care and ensure that she is always prepared. “Having a back-up plan for when things don’t go as planned is just as important as having the medication prescribed in the first place,” she explains. 

To complete your audit, create a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medicines, so you have a record of each drug, the dosage and what it treats. An example medication chart is provided below 

While there’s no substitute for a disease-modifying drug, but you can work with your doctor to identify some options that offer anti-inflammatory benefits or lower uric acid levels.  Schedule a phone consultation with your doctor or use your patient portal to communicate virtually.  Together, you can determine what to have on hand for emergencies. 

Understand Possible Side Effects of New Meds

When you talk with your doctor, make sure you discuss any potential side effects for each of the alternates she recommends. Make sure you understand how these medication(s) will interact with other drugs you take regularly.  It might be helpful to include side effects information on your medication chart, so that you have it handy if you have to make the switch. 

Be Mindful of Out of Pocket Expenses

Have a copy of your insurer’s drug formulary when you discuss alternatives with your doctor. Make sure you know if the drug is covered, what tier it is part of and what your co-pay will be. Discuss this information with your doctor and ask for different choices if the drug isn’t covered or won’t fit within your budget

Confirm Pre-authorization Requirements

As part of your pre-planning, check with your insurance provider on any pre-authorization requirements for the alternative medications. If it’s possible, take care of the paperwork in advance. If that isn’t possible, write down what they are and any relevant deadlines, so that you are prepared to activate your contingency plan. 

Take Advantage of Nondrug Therapies

Remember it’s possible to fight pain without pills. Exercise is one of the most natural ways to ease pain and there are different ways to exercise at home. It may be as simple as walking outside, up and down your apartment stairs or around the living room, while watching your favorite show.   You could use a sturdy chair or bench for a full body workout. Other options include yogatai chi or strength training using everyday items like water bottles, canned goods.  Heat therapy helps to relax stiff jointsPrescription topicals and OTC gels and creams can also help ease pain. 

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