The symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, such as joint pain and inflammation, occur due to a faulty autoimmune system. Instead of keeping potentially harmful invaders away from the body, the autoimmune system attacks its own joints and tissues instead.
To help spread awareness of this disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day was created! Here's what you need to know about the disease and what you can do to spread awareness.
What Makes Rheumatoid Arthritis Different from Other Types of Arthritis?
Several types of arthritis exist, each with its primary symptoms, characteristics and risk factors. While every type of arthritis causes discomfort, the pain, stiffness and swelling common to rheumatoid arthritis tends to occur only in certain areas of the body. These include:
Additionally, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis tend to affect numerous joints on both sides of the body in a symmetrical pattern. It can cause fatigue, loss of appetite and stiffness that lasts for several hours after waking up in the morning.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day
In 2013, the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation announced that it would be hosting an awareness campaign on February 2ndof each year. It was only a coincidence for the organization to choose February 2nd as the date of the campaign as it's also Groundhog Day. However, it offers an important analogy. The moment the groundhog comes out of its hole and sees its shadow is similar to rheumatoid disease onset. It is not possible to know at this early stage how aggressive the symptoms of the disease will be or which treatments to seek.
Just as the groundhog has six weeks after emerging from the hole until the start of spring, people with rheumatoid disease also have a short window of opportunity to get a proper diagnosis and start treatment. This is critical to receiving a positive outcome with disease management.
It is rare for rheumatoid arthritis to go into complete remission. Patients must deal with a host of painful symptoms for the rest of their lives and learn to manage them the best that they can. Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day on February 2nd occurs in the same month as Heart Disease Awareness Month that takes place throughout February. The reason this is important is that rheumatoid disease can increase the likelihood of heart disease, especially before a person has had a chance to receive a proper diagnosis.
How to Support a Loved One with Rheumatoid Arthritis
More than 1.5 million people in the United States live with this painful disease. The awareness day campaign hopes to bring doctors closer to a cure and let others who do not have the disease know what it’s like to live with it. People without rheumatoid arthritis can show their support by donating to research, spreading awareness on social media and just being a listening ear for the person with a chronic condition.
If you struggle from RA or know a loved one who is, obtain a referral from your doctor and contact Arthritis Center of Lexington today.