I began having symptoms in March of 1997, and began antibiotic therapy in June 1997. My tests were negative. However, I kept a log of symptoms from the moment I suspected rheumatoid arthritis (doing research on the Internet and narrowing it down). When the pain, mostly in my knees, spread to wrists and ankles in just a matter of weeks, rheumatoid arthritis seemed most likely. My doctor agreed, and also agreed to let me try the antibiotic therapy.
I had a rough three or four weeks, but then began to have some days where I really felt good--not just in the joints, but in all respects. I continued to keep a journal, and my progress looks like a roller coaster ride with the hills and valleys getting smaller and smaller but a steady uphill progression. I still have flares occasionally, but they are completely manageable and very short.
I began with minocycline, 100mg. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. After a few months and stalled progress, I went up to 200mg. Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays. After a couple of months of that I tried taking it Monday to Friday, but that only lasted a week (I had flares) before I reduced the dose again and have stayed at the 200 mg MWF. I have experimented with several brands and kinds of acidophilus, and the one which works best for me is a capsule kept in the fridge called PB8.
One interesting period occurred for me in January. I had some dental work done and needed to be on a different antibiotic, and my dentist offered clindamycin so I opted for it. Ten days on a high dose of that sent me into a flare like I hadn't had in six months. It took me about three more weeks to fully recover, but it definitely boosted my recovery. I am now down to one (yes one) dose of Relafen (an NSAID) per day. I'm feeling great. I am even taking Tae Kwan Do with the other members of my family. I sometimes have inflammation after using any of my joints extensively (as if I had been a professional dancer or football player), but otherwise my life is pretty normal. I recently tried to get off the NSAID completely, and couldn't. So I know I still have RA in my joints. I am prepared to be on antibiotics for the rest of my life if necessary, but I do look forward to taking a break from them in a year or two.
One thing I have had to do since the beginning of my symptoms was to drink a lot of water. I have no choice - my body demands it. I drink more than a gallon a day. Flushing those toxins out really helps, not only in my joints but in my brain. I think the mental symptoms (depression, etc) can really bring you down in flares, and it makes sense that the same thing causing the joints to flare up can also affect the brain. It still is no fun going through it, and I've found water, water, water speeds up recovery.
Exercise also helps. It pushes toxins out of the muscles and releases endorphins, making me feel better all over. Of course, with joint pain one must be careful, but keeping the muscles strong aids the joints in the long run. Massage is also very good for pushing toxins out. I hope those of you thinking of this therapy or starting on it are encouraged by my story. RA has changed my life, but it hasn't defeated me. If anything, it has made me stronger.
Happy healing, Pamela.