Hi there Mabel Jane - and welcome!
As usual Marla has given you some good info! I dont believe Plaquenil is usually given to patients with JUST RA, but it is one of the approved medications for treating lupus. Plaquenil is an anti-malarial drug (used to treat malaria - I know-go figure) but years ago was found to help lupus patients with the symptoms of fatigue, hair loss and rashes, and can help with lung symptoms. Clinical studies have also shown that being on Plaquenil can prevent lupus flares/lessen the intensity of flares. Some ppl do get some stomach side effects with it (I have never had a problem at all w. it) but side effect are very minimal. Particularly compared with some of the other meds used to treat lupus (MTX, Imuran, Prednisone).
The only bummer with the plaquenil is it can take sometimes up to 6 MONTHS to see any difference and many ppl dont even NOTICE a difference until they go OFF of it (at which point they realize - Oh crap, that was working!) and go back on it. Also, you should have your eyes checked every six months as Plaq CAN (very rare) cause some toxicity in the eyes,.
I dont have RA, but have several friends with serious cases of it and they SWEAR by Enbrel. THey give themselves daily injections and ALL have them have been able to go back to work and feel GREAT. Unlike lupus, there has been ALOT of new medications used to treat RA and prevent progression.
Hope this helps, and hoping the medications work for you and enable you to feel well! Again, welcome and there is a ton of info on the "sticky" notes on the top of the forum Lauri's Lounge. (No, not named after me, but the daughter of the AMAZING moderator/creator of this website.
Best wishes coming
For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7