I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis over four years ago and was wondering what people's experiences are with continuing exercise. I ought to point out that I'm in my fifties and had been a racing cyclist for most of my life until my joints went kaput. In the first two years of having arthritis I went from being able to ride 100+ miles per day in the Alps etc. to having to stop after one mile from home due to feeling so rough. That was painful in more senses than one.
After two years of the usual treatments I was switched to methotrexate and then anti-TNF, and while the first of those didn't have much apparent effect, the second transformed how I felt. Within a few weeks of the first injection the swellings had gone down, the fevers gone, pain largely gone - bliss! The anaemia still seems to come and go for some reason but I've gradually built up my cycling again so I'm able to get back to some long rides of 100 miles again, albeit somewhat slower than before due to the anaemia! However, when the rheumatologist told me that exercise was to be encouraged I took that as a green light to ride as much as I am able.
The biggest fly in the ointment is the susceptibility to infections due to the anti-TNF/methotrexate, and avoiding colds, sore throats, coughs etc. can be problematic. I've had two chest infections this year already. I do still have problems with hands, elbows, shoulders - but not legs at the moment, luckily - partly due to the recent infections causing me to be on and off the MTX and anti-TNF; generally the aches and pains are considerably better they were before the anti-TNF but not non-existent.
Anyway, the reason I'm posting is to find out (a) how other sports people have coped in the long term, (b) at what point do you stop riding or running or swimming etc. due to infection, and (c) do you ever get back near your best? (I think I might know the answer to the last one.)