5 Questions to Ask Before Starting Any Treatment
What are important aspects of treatment to consider before starting any medication?
Is the medication meant for symptom suppression or symptom resolution? Consider whether your treatment for arthritis is just covering up the symptoms or actually addressing the underlying issues of inflammation and slowing the autoimmune process. Certain medications are "disease-modifying," meaning they have long-term protective effects for the joints, whereas pain medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen are just a temporary band-aid to cover the symptoms.
What is the evidence for using this medication? Discuss with your physician whether research has proven a benefit with taking certain treatments and how they actually work in the body.
What are the potential harms of taking this medication? Any medication could come with side effects, which have to be considered and monitored over time. The risks and benefits have to be weighed to see whether it’s worth it to take the medication.
Does this therapy match my personal culture and beliefs about health? Everyone has a different preference for treatment based on how they grew up, the people around them, and their previous experiences with healthcare. Ideally, taking a medication should fit your personal and cultural preferences.
What is the cost? Medications should be affordable to patients and accessible to those who need them. There may be patient assistance programs available for essential medications that are expensive.
Adapted from David Rakel's Integrative Medicine, 4th edition.