Millions of people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. However, a vast majority of the population is unaware of its presence in the lives of people they are surrounded by. This is the reason why RA is often referred to as the silent disease. It cannot be easily spotted. So a person might be in utter agony, suffering from excruciating pain caused by severe RA, but you could be utterly oblivious to it.
It is one of the main aspects of RA that people suffering from it might want you to know. Whether you’re the one inflicted by the condition or you know someone who suffers from it, there is a superficial level of understanding and empathy towards people living with it on a daily basis. When enquired about the things RA patients might want the world to know, here’s what they the advice they had to offer.
Just because they look healthy, doesn’t necessarily mean they are
Even though most of the people suffering from RA might seem to be completely healthy, they could be in severe pain that could go unnoticed. Rheumatoid arthritis affects your joints, causing them to deteriorate.They might flare up as well. It causes the symptoms to worsen, thus leading to swollen painful joints and severe fatigue.
There are several instances when people might not believe patients claim of being in excruciating pain while suffering from RA. Even though people with a progressive form of arthritis might be allowed to park in the handicapped spot, because it is not a visible disease, people might misinterpret the situation as you taking up a place that does not belong to you. The same thing might be true if you ask for assistance.
The aspect of arthritis that most people might fail to comprehend is that when the pain flares up, it might be a gigantic task or next to impossible managing everyday chores like going shopping or walking even a relatively short distance.
RA can result in severe joint damage. The deterioration of the joints can be extreme enough to cause disability in some people, or others needing some serious medical procedures performed. These could include joint replacement surgery. There are various other body parts that can come under attacks, such as the heart, eyes, and lungs. You can feel pain in these parts as well.
A rheumatologist known as Rochelle Rosian who practices at the Cleveland Clinic put the agony across as people, in general, do not care to or are unable to understand what a patient of arthritis is going through. There is lukewarm sympathy offered with almost negligible support.
Instead, you should approach and enquire about the person’s well being if you know they suffer from RA. It is acceptable to talk to them about it. If you are in the dark about how to provide support, ask if they need help in any aspect of their life that might be restricted due to the symptoms of RA.
Do not trivialise the disease
More often than not, arthritis is associated in peoples minds with minor inconveniences caused by aches and pains. The reality of the situation is that living your life carrying RA in your joints can lead to various medications being prescribed for the remainder of your life. If the condition worsens or the damage is too severe to be managed by medications alone, there are several surgeries that might have to be performed. These can include joint replacement surgeries.
There are several misunderstandings that society harbours about the types of arthritis. While most people think arthritis is a blanket term for which a working understanding is enough, in reality, various types have different causes, symptoms and treatments. There is a difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis in the world. It can be caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage of your joints as you get older. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. It can erupt at any point of your life and cause damage to your joints. So the assumption that arthritis is an old person disease is not applicable in this case and can get really hard to explain to people.
Napping does not help with fatigue caused by arthritis
The kind of fatigue that makes you feel like you cannot move out of your bed if it was on fire characterises a symptom of arthritis.if you”re having a bad day or even a week, it can be incredibly hard to even get through the day.
Chronic fatigue affects the majority of people who have rheumatoid arthritis. It can drain your strength and make you feel as if you”ve just run a marathon. It is of utmost importance to be realistic of the amount of activity they can perform and participate in when burdened by fatigue.
It is also advisable to let people in your life know the battle you’re fighting every day. The conversation can include some instances that others can relate to, like the feeling of having the flu and feeling exhausted. You could let them know that while your physical appearance might be healthy, the pain still lies underneath unnoticed by most. In case fatigue is part of your everyday life, you might want to visit your doctor, as it could be indicative of your treatment plan not working. So you should definitely not brush it under the rug.
No diet or medication can absolutely cure rheumatoid arthritis
Once the diagnosis of RA comes in, alongside it trickles never-ending advice from well-wishers and any person who might have remotely heard of the disease. The guidance could fixate on dietary changes like cutting out gluten, that guarantees freedom from symptoms of RA.
While easing up on the gluten can help ease the symptoms to a certain degree, it cannot cure rheumatoid arthritis as it is a genetic condition. No number of lifestyle changes can cure it.
RA can affect a whole family
A genetic condition can be shared between several members of the family. It can affect everyone to varying degrees and intensity. In such situations, it is essential to be empathetic towards one another and understand the excruciating pain or discomfort every person is experiencing. It is easy when you’re in pain to lash out. This must be kept under control.
You can ask for help when you need it, instead of trying to do it all on your own without the assistance of your body to boot. The surrounding people must not only help the person with RA but provide help to their immediate family members too, as they might be shouldering part of the responsibilities and picking up the slack as well.