It was my mom’s fight with arthritis that made me decide to sign up for the Joints in Motion program. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is one where the body’s immune system becomes confused and begins to “attack” the body. In RA, the target of the attack is tissue in the lining of the joints. This causes swelling, pain, inflammation and joint destruction. Once damage occurs, it is not reversible, and it can cause significant pain and disability. That sucks.
For my mom, it was most obvious in her hands. She had trouble doing ordinary things like using a can opener or opening a screw-top jar. As the years passed, the damage was obvious in the way her hands became deformed. Later on, it affected her knees and other joints.
RA usually starts slowly and spreads to different joints over time. Early treatment is critical to minimize or delay damage to the joints, but medications often have side effects. What sucks even more is that they don’t work forever. My mom’s diagnosis got worse with time as various treatment combos stopped working. She had surgery on her hands when I was a teenager, and she went through endless combinations of medications over the years to manage her pain.
What else sucks? Like many other diseases, there is no cure and no one knows why people get it. With thousands of people being diagnosed with RA so early their lives, more research is needed to help us to understand and treat (and maybe even cure!) this disease. Support is also needed to help people manage this disease today, so they can live and enjoy their life without the pain that RA brings.
I didn’t understand a lot about my mom’s pain. Like so many people, she didn’t like to complain. I wonder today what more I could have done to help her, but there’s no real answer to that – I can’t change what she had to live with. But through Joints in Motion I can do something to help those who suffer from RA today and in the future. You can too. Thanks for visiting.