“It took 10 years to diagnose my RA. I had repeated episodes of joint swelling and terrible pain. It wasn’t until a colleague suggested RA as a possibility for a particularly painful flare in my knee that I specifically asked a practitioner at urgent care about it and she ran some blood work” – anonymous patient participant in our “Autoimmunity Voices” survey.
If you have experienced similar struggles with diagnosis and treatment for your autoimmune or chronic condition, you are very much not alone. Statistics show that over 50 million adult Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases, so we ask, “Why does it remain so difficult to find the right resources and management options for these conditions?” It is our goal at Your Autoimmunity Connection to shed light upon the current state of autoimmune diseases, care, and research, to move towards tackling this “invisible epidemic”.
This month, we shine our spotlight on Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). RA is one of the most common autoimmune diseases, with an estimated 1.5 million people diagnosed in the United States. With such significant prevalence, it is highly possible that you or someone you know may be affected by RA, but many people remain in the dark when it comes to important information surrounding this disease… we are here to change that.
Read on to become connected with statistics, research initiatives, supportive patient communities, digital health tools, and other additional resources specific to Rheumatoid Arthritis. And check out our Facebook page and forum for more RA-related updates!
What do the numbers show?
Current available statistics on RA estimate that…
- In the US, 132,000 people are diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis every year.
- Approximately 76 million people worldwide (or 1% of the world population) have RA.
- RA is diagnosed two to three times more frequently in women than in men.
Although these numbers may seem startling at first glance, there are underlying positive aspects of these statistics when examined within the context of the last fifty years. The prevalence and incidence of Rheumatoid Arthritis have decreased since the 1960s. One study conducted in Rochester, Minnesota, found that the incidence of RA had declined for both men and women over a 40-year period.
Statistics also show that the presence of RA varies widely in different regions of the world. In fact, studies have found that the prevalence of RA in Asian populations is significantly lower than in European and North American populations. This information supports the idea that susceptibility to RA may have a genetic component.
There are many pharmaceutical treatments available for Rheumatoid Arthritis, although matching them to the individual patient can be challenging and some may have serious side effects. More recently comes an understanding from alternative approaches that lifestyle changes – most notably diet, supplements and exercise – may help moderate or even reverse symptoms, prevent flares, and complement or reduce the need for pharmaceuticals.
Connecting you with available resources
Back to the basics – brushing up on general RA information
If you’ve reached this page and read this far along, chances are high that you already have at least some background knowledge about RA; but it can’t hurt to brush up on the basics. The following pages each provide a comprehensive overview of RA:
- Arthritis Foundation: What is RA?
- Information on the causes, symptoms, treatment and management of RA.
- Cleveland Clinic: Diagnostics and Prevention
- Familiarize yourself with common signs and symptoms, what to expect at diagnosis, and possible methods for preventing the disease.
- Mayo Clinic: Treatment Options
- Learn about different treatment options and medications for RA.
For the recently diagnosed
Are you just starting out on your journey of living with RA? These resources may be helpful for you in coordinating your healthcare team and maintaining your optimal wellbeing:
- How to Find a Specialist Who Treats Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Search engine designated to helping you find a Rheumatologist in your area.
- Your Autoimmunity Connection: Autoimmune Patient Guide
- Tips & tools for coordinating your care team, implementing lifestyle modifications, and utilizing digital health tools to maximize your health.
For anyone affected – find your patient community
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Community: Online Resources – Support
- Browse educational resources; connect with other patients and experts in online forums.
- Arthritis Introspective: Local Support Groups
- Explore programs for connection, education and empowerment via support groups and conferences near you.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Insight & Encouragement Facebook Forum
- Connect online with other patients to receive and share helpful knowledge and support. Patients in this forum seem to be particularly active and engaged, but a search on Facebook may offer you more options, too!
Literature, Blogs & Research
There is an immense amount of research being conducted to understand the root causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis. We’ve picked a few of our favorite research resources to make it easier for you to get caught up on recent findings, get informed of future directions, and tap into your potential for involvement as a patient:
- Arthritis Foundation: Arthritis Today
- Digital and print publication providing advice on treatments, fitness and nutrition and daily living tips from health experts.
- Arthritis Foundation: Arthritis Today Drug Guide
- Discover dosages, potential side effects, special instructions and known precautions specific to a particular medication.
- Arthritis National Research Foundation: Current Research
- Find highlights on the latest research developments and news
- Your Autoimmunity Connection: Monthly Newsletters
- Receive up-to-date research and guidelines focused on autoimmune diseases and care.
Digital Health Tools for Pain Management
- RheumaTrack: A free app for your smartphone that provides you with tools to track your pain levels and record good and bad days. It will not only remind you about taking your medication, but will also allow you to export your log to show your physician.
- Track + React: You can utilize this app to track your nutrition, fitness, sleep, medication and mood and compare it to your arthritis pain in the Arthritis Impact graph.
We hope that shining the spotlight on RA this month connects you with beneficial resources and information, but we would like to emphasize the need to take a holistic approach in tackling the autoimmune disease epidemic. By looking at all autoimmune diseases together, we can move away from fragmented statistics that hide the magnitude of the problem and towards concerted action in reshaping research, diagnosis, and treatment. Our model is the revolution in cancer research and treatment that has come from viewing cancer as a group of diseases with common etiologies, thus garnering more resources than individual types of cancer.
Where did we get this data, and where can you find more?
The following pages present statistics surrounding RA incidence, prevalence, and more.
- Arthritis Foundation: Resources and Information
- Cleveland Clinic: Diagnostics, Management, Treatment, and Prognosis
- Medical Xpress: Rheumatoid Arthritis Research and Developments
Get acquainted with Your Autoimmunity Connection
- Check out our blog at www.drbonnie360.com for all things autoimmune – from updates in research to possible lifestyle modifications, patient stories, and more.
- Find us on Facebook here, or join our Facebook Forum to connect with patients across all autoimmune diseases.
- Read our patient guide on How to Achieve Your Optimal Wellbeing
- Read our Guide to Movement Therapy
- Check out our other spotlights here
What did you think of this spotlight? We would love to hear your feedback and know what you would like to see in future posts. Please let us know below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.