Facebook Pixel

Could Your Joint Pain be Rheumatoid Arthritis?

By Anonymous
Rate This
rheumatoid-arthritis-can-cause-joint-pain iStockphoto/Thinkstock

As we get older our joints can get stiff and cause pain. Cartilage breaks down and some of us will need joints like hips and knees replaced. The surgery can get us moving again and feeling good.

Short of that, exercise such as swimming and simple anti-inflammatory pills like ibuprofen can help. But if you watch television at all, you’ve seen the commercials for a different kind of arthritis, typically affecting women -- rheumatoid arthritis or RA.

This is not a condition where the wear and tear of life has taken a toll on the joints. Rather, this is when your own body’s immune system starts attacking the joints and causing inflammation. Over time, if left unchecked, the joints can be destroyed.

There’s no specific test for RA but experienced rheumatologists can make the diagnosis. They look for swelling in joints on both sides of the body. Sometimes RA goes along with another autoimmune condition -- psoriasis.

Getting a diagnosis earlier is important to stop joint damage. Rheumatoid arthritis can’t be reversed. Just a few years ago there was no good way to stop the march of the disease that affects about 1.6 million Americans. Many would end up needing surgery and artificial joints. Some would face being put on disability.

But fortunately the treatment options have expanded greatly, as you’ll guess from all those television commercials and, lately, radio ads for new drugs being studied for RA.

The landscape began to change about 10 years ago as “biologics” were approved by the FDA. These drugs can switch off the inflammatory reaction.

Recently I interviewed 34-year-old Beth Anne Demeter of Palatine, Illinois. She was diagnosed with RA at age 13 and used to take the old, less effective medicines. But in college she enrolled in a clinical trial for one of the new ones. It has worked great and she leads a full life and she’s very active in sports.

You can hear more of Beth Anne’s story and how modern medicine has made it a positive one, as explained by her doctor, rheumatologist Calvin Brown, from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Add a Comment1 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I think it's important to note that Rheumatoid Arthritis does not just affect the joints, but also internal organs, your eyes, skin, teeth-- the whole body is and can be affected by the disease. It causes weight loss, fevers, and crippling fatigue as well. Arthritis is truly just one symptom of the disease.

March 7, 2012 - 11:22am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Get Email Updates

Related Topics

Rheumatoid Arthritis Guide


Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!