Myth 1: Rheumatoid Arthritis is all aches and pains and all arthritis is the same.
Who isn’t tired of hearing others say that arthritis is “just” aches and pains that people get as they get older. Arthritis may be more common as people age, but it can begin at any age, including childhood. Contrary to popular belief, there are elderly persons who never develop arthritis. Arthritis is quite serious and can affect not only the joints, but also the body’s internal organs.
In addition, rheumatoid arthritis is not like “regular arthritis”. So called regular arthritis is called by injury or normal wear-and-tear of aging joints. It is also more common in middle age to elderly individuals. RA is, in contrast, an ever-present condition that continues to escalate. RA is an autoimmune disease in which unknown triggers attack thus forcing the body to make antibodies that in turn attack its own tissues. These attacks mostly affect the joints, but they also affect other body parts. These so-called attacks are called flare-ups that may come and go or may even be continuous.
Myth 2: Rheumatoid Arthritis isn’t really a serious health problem.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that should not be ignored. Many people will downplay its affects and delay seeking treatment, for months and even years, and a lot of joint damage can happen in that period of time. RA needs a timely diagnosis and patients need regular treatment to protect their joints. The better managed an individual’s condition is, the more opportunity they have for holding on to their independence and long-term function. Moreover, the course of RA can be different in every individual but current treatments are allowing individuals to live more independently for much longer. Another problem for those delaying treatment is that having RA can put you at risk for other conditions – cardiovascular disease, infections, lung disease, to name a few.
Myth 3: There is not much that can be done to ease pain and lessen the probability of disability with RA.
The truth is that there is no cure for most autoimmune or chronic rheumatic diseases. Because of this, many patients think that little can be done for rheumatoid arthritis, but that is not the case at all. Improvement in the pain and in slowing down loss of function is possible in almost everyone. In addition, joint destruction can be controlled effectively in most patients. There is so much more out there that can be done to ease pain and low progression of the disease than there was before.
And, yes there is hope.
Sources: The Arthritis Foundation and WebMD.