Some Misconceptions About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is so often a misunderstood disease.   Many times I am hesitant to tell people  I even have this disease.  The reason being that many who I do speak with about it respond with, “Oh my grandmother had arthritis.” Or even others say, “Oh, you  should try such and such medicine because it is helping people to get back to a normal life and they can do the things they used to do.”  Even others want to tell me about this magic cure they know about.  I have heard so many other things too numerous to mention.  Some so infuriating I can’t even think about them without getting upset or crying.  I am sure others who have RA have heard many of these same things too.

One of the misconceptions I have heard concerning RA is that if you don’t really look “sick” you must not have Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Someone once said this to me and then proceeded to tell me maybe it was all in my head. The reality is that although most people with Rheumatoid Arthritis do have misshapen or deformed joints, some do not. This can be misleading as far as disease severity and other factors of RA that plague the person who
suffers with it.  Some of the other less visible things such as extreme fatigue, joint pain and a general feeling of just not being well at all are all part of living with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Just because I don’t look sick does not mean I do not have RA, or is not an indicator of just how severe my disease actually is. There is an old adage that says'”you can’t
judge a book by its cover.” Well in way this fits with RA sufferers, we might look fine but what is going on inside our bodies, the stuff that can’t be seen may be quite severe.

Another misconception I have come across is that if you move to or live in a dry, arid  climate you can cure Rheumatoid Arthritis.  According to the NIH no particular climate has been shown to improve the symptoms for those living with RA.  I have been living in a dry climate now for many years and I still have up and down days with RA.  My RA certainly has not been cured. 😦

And one of the biggest misconceptions I have heard of is that you don’t need to start medication until you have really bad joint problems.  This is so far from the truth of the matter.  My rheumatologist said that the earlier I  start the medicine the better it would be at helping to possibly prevent joint damage or slow the progression. I am certainly all for that.  Sure the medicines do have their side effects and even though some side effects are pretty heavy-duty, for me the benefits out weigh the risks.

My hope is that as more and more of us speak up about  RA it will gain more recognition for the serious, chronic and incurable disease that it is.  And as it gains more recognition I pray that along with that recognition comes the realization that more research must be done so that a cure can be found.  I long for the day when everyone gets just how life altering and serious this disease really is. For now I will keep doing my little part to help spread awareness  about this chronic disease. I will fight on and not let this disease rob me of daily joys and pleasures.

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5 Responses to Some Misconceptions About Rheumatoid Arthritis

  1. Right on on all accounts. And what I wish for even more if we could somehow pull all the organization together working on different aspects or avenues of ra or autoimmune illnesses under one roof to raise one very loud voice. How wonderful would that be. I find so many people and organizations doing their own thing which is wonderful but then I imaging this one huge group or voice, united. How empowering and impacting would or could that be? And you keep on, keeping on with your fight. We all have our own illness and how it impacts us and we all have our own way in which we need to fight this disease(s). Please don’t you ever let anyone make you feel less…in any way, shape or form. Your ra is your ra and how you fight it will be your own personal journey. Not two journies are ever exactly alike.

    • You are so right. If everyone would just pull together what load resounding voice that would be. Just think how much could accomplished towards finding a cure. We’ll keep on fighting and shout it to the roof tops and we effect the awareness and research that needs to happen.

  2. Wren says:

    I’ve been faced with all those responses to my RA ever since I was first diagnosed 24 years ago. I’ve sort of grown a thick skin, finally. If I think it will help (or educate) I’ll explain why my arthritis is not your grandma’s, or how it’s not the same as your osteoarthritic knee. And I’ll say that I’ve tried all the “cures” without a hint of success. Most of the time people who make these remarks are not being in the least bit malicious (with the exception of the “it’s all in your head” group), so I take their remarks with a grain of salt and just move on. Yeah, it’s annoying. But that’s life. I live with RA–and that’s a lot harder to deal with than thoughtless remarks.

    Hang in there. You have exactly the right attitude. 😉

    • Yes, I am hanging in. Some days by a thread, but I imagine others are struggling too; Some maybe even more so than I. I heard of quite a few “sure fire cures” all of which claimed to cure this monster called RA, but none of them have proven to do the trick. Most comments I hear are well intentioned I am sure and I try to see them in that light. RA has been in my life for the past 6 years now and I now for sure I need to develop my thick skin. I am working on it. My attitude gets me through a lot, my faith helps too.

  3. Jan says:

    Somewhat new to the RA diagnosis (May 2011), I really appreciate your words as I already experience these reactions from others.

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