My Doctor Said I Have RA but I’m Not That Old!

This month is National Arthritis Awareness Month. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or are an RA veteran—please leave a comment about what resonates with you, what your experience with RA has been or tips and advice to share with the RA community. We want to hear from you!

“I was only five years old when I was first diagnosed with RA,” said Stephanie, a long-time Patient Ambassador for Vectra®. “As I moved into young adulthood, I continued to face questions about how someone my age could have arthritis, sometimes even from doctors who weren’t familiar with the condition!”

In fact, RA, also called rheumatoid disease, is an autoimmune condition that can affect anyone at any age. Diagnosis typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 60[1], according to the Arthritis Foundation. When a person has RA, their body’s immune system attacks their own tissues. This often affects the joints but also can affect internal organs. The painful swelling that comes along with an attack, or a “flare,” can range from mild to debilitating, and if untreated, can result in bone erosion, joint deformity or damage to internal organs.

Rheumatoid arthritis is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis, a condition caused by deterioration of the cartilage that provides protective cushioning at the ends of bones in the joints.[2]Sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis, with aging as its greatest risk factor,[3]osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 30 million Americans.[4]

Because RA isn’t as common as osteoarthritis and because symptoms aren’t always the same for all patients, diagnosis can be difficult. Luckily, the field is advancing and patients and physicians have more tools than ever before to diagnose, treat and monitor this condition.

Getting diagnosed and beginning treatment early is critical to help patients prevent progressive joint damage.[5]Many rheumatologists use Vectra®to assess inflammation, which can provide a valuable, objective measure of whether a treatment is working. In fact, when compared to other tools, Vectra is the best predictor of joint damage[6].

Once diagnosed, a patient can experience a range of emotions, from fear and uncertainty about the future, to mild relief at finally understanding why they are experiencing symptoms that have impacted the way they normally live. When patients receive a diagnosis, it can be comforting to know that there is a wealth of information available to learn more about their condition and that there are communities of RA patients who understand exactly what you’re going through.

Here, we’ve compiled some of the top resources for RA which we hope you will find helpful.

For an overview of the disease, you can access information from these trusted sources:

These patient advocacy organizations exist to support patients like you. Here you can find disease information, scientific updates, RA communities and ways to get involved.

A number of individuals work to help their fellow patients by blogging about their experiences. While there are too many to list here, we’d like to highlight a couple of prominent ones.

We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

[1]https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/what-is-rheumatoid-arthritis.php

[2]https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351925

[3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2818253/

[4]https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm

[5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24089023

[6]Curtis JR, et al. (2019): Predicting risk for radiographic damage in rheumatoid arthritis: comparative analysis of the multi-biomarker disease activity score and conventional measures of disease activity in multiple studies, Current Medical Research and Opinion

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