As we have been discovering the ins and outs of different types of arthritis it got me thinking about being a woman and what my current lifestyle could possibly hold for me in the future.
As health conscience as I am in my mid-twenties, unfortunately, nothing can stop me from getting Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although the cause is unclear, this particular type of arthritis is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disorder where white blood cells attack themselves because they cannot distinguish between healthy and harmful cells. Healthy tissues in the joints are ultimately damaged as a result. Most types of arthritis effect one joint, or one part of the body. RA is frequently recognized by the fact that it attacks both sides of your body in symmetry. The most common examples are both hands, wrists or knees - both being the key word.
Statistically speaking, Rheumatoid Arthritis effects about 1% of the U.S. population, striking two to three more times more in women than men. A variety of factors have been known to cause RA, however, most notable are genetics, environmental factors and hormones. I guess hormones would help us understand why more women are prone to it than men. You know, the more I think about this, the more I realize everything in our body revolves around our hormones. We can’t catch a break, can we ladies?!
Besides entering the “over the hill” phase of life where it seems everything starts breaking down, it is important to keep in mind all the risk factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Relatively speaking, most cases of RA strike men and women starting between 30-55. That is obviously a large range of age, but what is more alarming is the amount of children with RA. Approximately 300,000 kids in the U.S. are living with arthritis. Considering this is a chronic, progressive form of arthritis, kids with RA need to be especially careful about their treatment to preserve and protect their joints for their future.
There is also another characteristic about Rheumatoid Arthritis that makes it unique to other types of arthritis, which in my opinion is the most critical to understand. RA doesn’t just affect your joints like most types of arthritis.