Five Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis
When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis I had heard the name many times before, my aunt lived with it – but I never really understood the illness until I had a name for my mysterious chronic pain and other symptoms I couldn’t quite understand. What really surprised me though was that I was only 29 and now living with a disease I thought only impacted the elderly and was merely joint pain.
I was wrong – here are 5 painful and exhausting facts about Rheumatoid Arthritis.
1. It’s a whole lot more than only joint pain…like a lot more.
Anyone living with RA can tell you the disease is debilitating – fatigue, pain, sleep issues, mental health struggles, countless medications, brain fog, frequent infections and what seems like a never-ending list of comorbidities that follow because often with chronic illnesses, they are like chips you often can’t have just one.
Common comorbidities with rheumatoid arthritis include cardiovascular disorders, gastrointestinal, renal and pulmonary diseases, infections, osteoporosis, tumors, and depression.
2. RA is one of the most common forms of arthritis but there are others.
Many others, in fact, there are actually over 100 forms of arthritis, many of which are autoimmune like rheumatoid arthritis. Others include psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, scleroderma, lupus, and the well-known wear and tear old age-associated osteoarthritis. RA and OA are quite different diseases. While OA has quite devastating effects too it is not a systemic autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis.
3. It’s more common in women but men experience it too. So do children.
Approximately, one percent of the world population lives with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with at least twice as many women affected as men. The World Health Organization estimates more than 23 million people live with RA and this number will continue to increase. Arthritis is a common health problem in the global population, affecting more than 350 million people and a leading cause of disability. Arthritis impacts any age, sex, or race.
4. No cure exists.
No amount of yoga, turmeric, kale, or vegan diet will cure my illness. While they may help, it’s not guaranteed it will cure someone or even help everyone. Every case for arthritis is different, what works for may not work for another and many do require disease-modifying medications to stop the debilitating progression of the disease. Left untreated, RA can be devastating, not just on the person living with the disease but also their loved ones.
5. It has devastating effects across the globe.
It’s one of the world’s leading causes of disability and one of the most expensive diseases to treat for both the patient and the economy.
Eileen Davidson, also know as Chronic Eileen is a rheumatoid arthritis advocate and blogger from Vancouver BC Canada. She advocates as an Ambassador for The Arthritis Society, a member on Arthritis Research Canada’s Patient Advisory Board and is a regular writer for Creaky Joints.