Patient Stories

Going to the Mat for RA: Medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Being a law student can be stressful, which is why Jacqueline Boyce did not pay much attention to the aches and pains she was experiencing in her shoulder during her final semester in 2009.

“I thought I was carrying around too many books, and thought my shoulder and wrist were just strained,” says Ms. Boyce.

But over the next few months, she started to feel much worse. She found that more joints hurt and stiffened. Soon she could not function normally in her daily life. “I couldn’t even squeeze a shampoo bottle,” she recalls.

Ms. Boyce was referred to Dr. Susan Goodman, who diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis.

Jacqueline Boyce treated for rheumatoid arthritis by Susan Goodman, MD

Dr. Goodman prescribed several oral medications, but after a few months Ms. Boyce was still having significant symptoms. Dr. Goodman’s past research observations helped her to make an informed decision to change the therapy and switch Ms. Boyce to a monthly intravenous medication.

Today, Ms. Boyce says she feels close to normal and is enjoying an active lifestyle. “I’m doing daily Pilates and walking around New York City like I used to, thanks to the attentive care at HSS and the support of my fiancé and family.”

She will likely avoid the need for more serious treatments, such as joint replacement surgery.

“Jacqueline’s case is one that exemplifies the need for research explaining why patients react differently to drug therapies,” Dr. Goodman says. “Someday, I hope that our studies will lead to tailored therapies that we will be able to prescribe to patients sooner in their treatment to prevent and limit the severity of their arthritis.”

This story first appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Discovery to Recovery, the HSS research newsletter.