Myths & Misconceptions

If you have general informational questions about autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis not answered below, feel free to contact us. If the question is of general interest, we will add it here. To protect your privacy, please do not send your personal and confidential health details. Dr. Girnita cannot provide medical advice to individuals not under her care.

Does a positive ANA test always mean I have lupus?

No. In fact, most people with a positive ANA test do not have lupus. A definitive diagnosis of lupus requires several additional lab tests and clinical findings. If you do have lupus, you need to start treatment promptly to avoid permanent damage including heart attack or stroke. Dr. Girnita’s video explains what positive ANA results can mean.

I have an autoimmune diagnosis. Why does my current doctor keep changing my medication?

Several possible reasons:
  • Lack of familiarity with the most current and effective treatments for your specific diagnosis
  • Lab results that indicate your current medication is causing adverse effects
  • Symptoms aren’t improving on your current medication
  • New symptoms are emerging that require different or additional treatment
We encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Girnita if your doctor can’t or won’t answer your questions. 
It’s very important that you receive appropriate treatment to protect your long-term health, and you certainly deserve answers to all of your questions.

Can autoimmune diseases be cured?

Most autoimmune diseases can be controlled and some patients can achieve remission from symptoms for a long time, but these diseases cannot in general be truly cured. The treatment goals for most rheumatic and autoimmune diseases are freedom from pain, symptom management, inflammation reduction and slowing progression of the disease. This protects your health and quality of life and helps your body heal from the damage caused by inflammation. 


Are OA and RA the same disease?

No. “OA” means osteoarthritis. “RA” means rheumatoid arthritis. OA is a very common degenerative joint condition commonly known as “wear and tear” arthritis. RA is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your joints, eyes, lungs and increases cardiovascular risk. This video explains the most common symptoms of RA.

Do all rheumatoid arthritis drugs have serious side effects?

No. There are many classes of medications used to treat RA, lupus, psoriatic arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. Without proper supervision and management by your doctor, some are likelier to cause side effects or increase health risks for certain patients. Our goal is to help you make informed decisions about these medications that are in sync with your personal priorities, and we educate our patients on early warning signs of possible side effects. We closely monitor patients who take these meds with specific twice/yearly lab tests included in your membership. You also have immediate access to Dr. Girnita if you experience anything that concerns you. Following certain evidence-based nutrition and exercise recommendations can also reduce or delay your need for stronger medications.

Will I have to take medications for the rest of my life?

Not necessarily. Research-based nutrition and physical activity recommendations can reduce, eliminate or delay the need for aggressive medications in many people. This is why Dr. Girnita takes a whole-person approach to treatment.