Rheumatoid Disease, also known as Rheumatoid Arthritis, is a systemic autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the body.
At Grace & Able, we say 'rheumatoid disease' because rheumatoid is more than 'just arthritis'. Arthritis means 'swollen joints', and this is only one symptom of rheumatoid disease.
Symptoms of rheumatoid disease
The most common symptom is swollen painful joints.
Rheumatoid often starts in the smaller joints of the hands and feet, progressing to larger joints like the knees.
Some patients describe rheumatoid pain as their joints 'being on fire' or 'pulled apart'.
Other rheumatoid symptoms include fatigue and brain fog.
Fatigue can be very difficult to live with. It's more than just feeling tired. Imagine the feeling when you go down with a bout of the flu...then imagine feeling like that every day.
Left untreated, rheumatoid disease can eventually destroy joint tissue and erode bone. This can result in a loss of mobility.
Rheumatoid disease can also affect internal organs including the eyes, heart and lungs.
The disease mostly affects women over 40, but it can be diagnosed in men and children too.
Treating rheumatoid disease
If you think that you might have rheumatoid disease you must visit your doctor immediately.
Your doctor will examine your joints for swelling, and may give you a blood test as part of the diagnosis process.
Treating rheumatoid involves slowing disease progression using medications like NSAIDs, DMARDs, steroids and biologics.
You may also find it helpful to look at lifestyle changes like diet and exercise to help reduce inflammation in the body.
There is no cure for rheumatoid disease so it is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Getting help with rheumatoid disease
Your rheumatologist can explain your treatment options to you, and you can find more information on the Arthritis Foundation website.
Receiving a diagnosis of rheumatoid disease can feel overwhelming. It helps to connect with other people who have been through the same experience. There are many online patient support groups.
For women who are dealing with rheumatoid disease, the Women with Rheumatoid Disease community is a great community to get information, tips and support.