You might not know it, but you could be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Although rheumatoid arthritis is commonly associated with the older generation (people over the age of 65), the disease is found in younger generations – even including children. How could you tell if you have it? Well if you’re experiencing morning stiffness for no apparent reason (like if you had done a lot of strenuous exercise the night before, for example), you might be suffering from one of its symptoms. As mild as you might think morning stiffness is, you really ought to give it some serious thought and consult with your doctor because if that morning stiffness is related to rheumatoid arthritis, you can work to prevent it from becoming worse later on down the road, causing increasing disability or pain to a point where you can barely function. But rheumatoid arthritis isn’t just a physical condition. It has the propensity to tax your mental and emotional state of well-being too.
This is because arthritis can change the way you work, the way you interact with your family, and the way you entertain yourself with recreational activities. You might even know someone with rheumatoid arthritis and have observed how this disease changed not only his or her mobility, but also his or her outlook on life. Those of us without rheumatoid arthritis tend to take our ability to move any way we want for granted, but when that ability slowly disappears right before our eyes, it’s no surprise that we get depressed about it.
But it doesn’t necessary have to be that way. With proper medications, education, support, and prescribed exercises, you could work to prevent the most severe forms of the disease – or at least delay the worst case symptoms.
Arthritis works in two ways. First, it inflames the muscles, ligaments, and cartilage that sit in between joints. It is this inflammation that causes the pain, swelling, and sensation of heat. Those are symptoms that are typical indications of an injury and they’re vital to understanding more about this disease. Second, arthritis works by releasing enzymes that basically consume or otherwise destroy the muscles, ligaments, and cartilage that have become inflamed to a point where they’re not very useful and don’t allow for easy movement. In the worse cases, cartilage disappears completely and as you can guess, this is extremely crippling and uncomfortable.
That’s why we call rheumatoid arthritis a disease. Typically, inflamed muscles, ligaments, and cartilage are the result of an injury, like falling on the knees for example. But with arthritis, no injury has to occur. In fact, arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease and the cartilage inside joints is one of the things that it destroys. And any joint can be affected – one, two, maybe even more but most of the time, the disease targets fingers, hips, feet, and knees.
Because Rheumatoid Arthritis is sometimes overlooked and many people are not aware that it can affect everyone, if you have RA or have just learned something February is a good time to inform others, as it is Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Month! If you have rheumatoid arthritis, updating or getting a new medical bracelet or other jewelry from My Identity Doctor to ensure medics know your needs: especially if you take a biologic or similar treatment, a rheumatoid arthritis medical ID may beneficial: if you can’t speak, the jewelry will speak for you.