60-Second Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hi! This is me, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy. I am a superhero who lives with rheumatoid arthritis. My illness will last a lifetime, but reading this guide to RA will only take a minute – I promise. (I’ll even use a countdown timer, just like they do in the action movies!) Can one get a better understanding of rheumatoid arthritis in just 60 seconds? Let’s give it a try!

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints (and sometimes, the organs). An autoimmune disease is an illness where the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies healthy cells as invaders cells. The result: the body sends out antibodies to attack these healthy cells. (It sure sounds like the Joker is talking…are you confused yet?)

Okay, let’s pretend that your body is Gotham City. Your immune system is Batman. Your joints? Well, they are tiny bat signals. Batman – thinking that Gotham City is being invaded – is forever going to all the bat signals and attacking everything in the vicinity, leaving behind lots of damage. (He never seems to realize that these bat signals are actually false alarms.)

No words can accurately describe the physical pain that is caused by rheumatoid arthritis. (Although this mental image, for me, does come close: A Mack truck ran over me. And then it backed up, and ran over me again!) Rheumatoid arthritis pain is chronic and is not something that can be easily fixed with just an aspirin. This pain can be one of the most crippling aspects of living with RA.

The constant attack on otherwise healthy joints leads to inflammation – the joints become red and swollen. When joints are constantly inflamed they eventually begin to move around. This can lead to disfigurement and joint damage, which can sometimes be permanent. Many of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are directly related to this inflammatory process.

Joints that are continually inflamed often begin to experience extended periods of stiffness. This can sometimes lead to drastic reductions in strength and mobility. One of the most prominent symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is morning stiffness – and unlike a squeaky hinge, we can’t just add a few drops of oil to make things better. (If only.)

When rheumatoid arthritis is active, a person can easily become extremely tired. Actually – it surpasses mere tiredness and rises to the level of fatigue. This constant lack of energy can be one of the most limiting aspects of life with RA. Quite often, a person’s level of daily activity must be reduced and periods of sleep and rest must be increased.

Living with RA can bring about many emotional challenges. Stress and anxiety levels may increase. Periods of depression, feelings of losing hope, and thoughts of suicide might become more frequent. Coping with chronic illness is difficult. If you feel that you or someone you love might be in danger of harming themselves, please reach out for help.

Rheumatoid arthritis is not related to age – it can affect people young and old alike. There is even a juvenile form of RA. Many people confuse RA with osteoarthritis, another form of arthritis which is typically associated with age. So if you really want to compliment a person on their young looks, go ahead! (But please don’t forget, no one is “too young” to have RA.)

Some people living with RA might show visible signs of joint damage, or may use assistive mobility devices. However, in many cases of rheumatoid arthritis the illness is invisible. Many people show no visible signs of RA. So once again, if you want to compliment someone on their good looks, go ahead. (But please don’t forget, people with RA don’t necessarily “look sick”.)

Although there is currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, many treatment options are available. Just as Superman had his Justice League, so too does RA Guy have his Team RA. A 360° approach is recommended: rheumatologist, psychologist, physical therapist, acupuncturist, spiritual guide, holistic healer, dietician, surgeon, and massage therapist.

(Unlike in the movies, my final five seconds don’t last half an hour!) Life with RA: Don’t lose hope! Talk to a friend, family member, or co-worker about RA. Visit one of the many online support groups, forums, and blogs that are available for people living with RA and their caregivers. Together we can increase awareness of rheumatoid arthritis – it only takes a minute!

Comments 170

  1. BarkingDogShoes

    Brilliant. I wish I had this concise, no-nonsense, look-on-the-brightside explanation 12 years ago when I was diagnosed. I would have shared with everyone that said, “But you’re too young,” or “My grandma has that…”

  2. Millicent

    Short, accurate—I think this should be a pamphlet given to every RA patient as they are diagnosed!

  3. Holly

    Holy crap you nailed it!!! Looks like I need to get more ppl in my 360 circle. Iwas DX in 2001 , but didn’t REALLY experience RA till 2008, it went out of control and I’m now on Enbrel, MTX and a slew of other RA fighting agents.
    I hope all my ppl check this out. Thanx RA Guy, you’re my hero!

  4. MissDazey

    This is great. I am one of the old people who is disfigured, yet people still think it’s all in my head. I’d would be nuts to have this in my head on purpose.

    Miss Dazey

  5. Seeking Solace

    This is simply brilliant! I am going to post this on my blog and pass it along to everyone I know.

    One of my research projects that I am considering is the ADA and invisible illness. I will keep you posted.

  6. Angie

    You hit the nail right on the head. Again, another excellent post. I will be saving this and printing this for others to see. Good job.

  7. Tortoiselvr

    Thank you! I’ve been looking for just such a thing!
    Add mind-reading to your list of superpowers :).

  8. Ravensgma

    FANTASTIC this is the best down and dirty version I have ever seen I am going to copy it and take it to my Doctor so he can understand what this really feels like
    keep up the good work

  9. Safe

    Hey, this is great…. you explained it better than my rheumy did. Way to go, guy – oops RA Guy! Thanks!

  10. J G

    Wow. How could you not feel a little better about your diagnosis if this was handed to you at the doctor’s office?

    RA Guy, you really ARE a super hero. Keep ’em coming.

    Oh, and thanks for giving a crap about what I have to say. 😉

  11. T4Texas

    Fantastic!! What a great job you’ve done putting everything together and putting it all in perspective. I love your website! You have done such an excellent job with it. I also love the humor. We need a lot of humor. lol


  12. Post
    RA Guy

    I guess it’s safe for me to assume that you all liked this guide? Grin. Seriously though, I am glad that people are liking it, and hopefully it can help more people gain a better understanding of RA.

  13. MsCowgirl

    What a super-hero job you’ve done. Thanks for helping all of us assist others to understand our condition. Love your site too.

  14. Sherro

    Gee, Kids …Who Is This Dude??!!! Our very own RACentral Guru.
    “What a difference a GUY makes!” Very impressive~

  15. Janet

    You are right on!!! You made it short and easy to understand yet you express what people who have RA live with every day. I agree with Millicent about making it into a brochure to be passed out to all RA patients and their families. Great job!

  16. Selina

    Wow, this is about as accurate as it gets. I give you an A+. What a great job you did describing this awful disease. I had my first attack in my early twenties, and have had it for over 30 years now. I am lucky that mine is intermitting RA. I also have OA, fibro, chronic back pain, and of course depression. Thanks for writing, and I agree that it should be a brochure…Selina

  17. Joyce

    Hi RA guy,
    This is a good description on RA! I like the way you describe by using the batman example!
    Look forward to learning more from you about arthritis.
    Well done!


  18. Lucy

    I was diagnosed with RA in 2007 and NEVER have I understood RA more than I do now after reading that.
    Absolutely Brilliant!

  19. Helly

    I simply had to share this little gem on my blog… It is fantastic, and I’m certainly going to be sending the PDF to my rheumatology team!

    Tortoiselvr said it best… Add mind-reading to your list of super-powers!

  20. Jeanette

    Thanks – this really hit the spot for my 10-year-old with JRA. Got lots of giggles and some nodding, as in “Yeah, I get that…”

  21. Karen

    Kudos!!! I couldn’t have described it better myself. Im going to print this out and put it in my office, so MAYBE people will understand what we go through! ( if thats ok with you)

  22. Lana

    Good way to get your point across. I have RA and fibromyaliga. Some days are good, some are bad. I just take it one day at a time.

  23. Elizabeth

    Nice, succinct summary. One thing I would add: RA often flares up, and then calms down again…making it very difficult to assess whether some treatment option is really working — or if you are just coming out of a flare naturally. I was diagnosed with RA at 18, after both my knees puffed up like balloons, and am now 40 — meaning that I have had RA my entire adult life, although there were times when it was excruciating, and times when it wasn’t active at all (although I still had some pain from already damaged joints). I got both hips replaced in my twenties — so I am very familiar with the “but you’re too young” comments!

  24. Joanne Connors

    Hi RA Guy,

    Your 60 second guide is wonderful, and I’m going to point my rheumy team towards it.

    Keep up the great work, and I hope you’re not too creaky at the moment.

    Best wishes

  25. RockinRhea

    Just joined the site and noticed the 60 Second Guide right off. I’ve had RA for 20+ years now, and have never seen it explained and described so well.

    Thanks ‘RA Guy’ and I look forward to being a part of this community!

  26. kate

    you put the thoughts that i have in my head in a format that i have been unable to express, thank you!

    and the part,”you don’t look sick” perfect, im 26 year old woman with a thin build who has to use a handicap pass at times and i have been accused of stealing the pass instead of rightfully needing the pass based purely on only my appearance. Not fair- diseases to not discriminate they attack people of all shapes and sizes.
    thanks again you’re wonderful 🙂

  27. sandragaye

    Thanks, that site is so informative. The best site I have seen.
    My RA started when I was 23 years old.. you are right, it knows no are or gender, Thanks so much for hooking me up eo a GREAT site, Sandra

  28. nutzieone

    This is great! I’ve had back pain for over 20 years now and only just diagnosed with arthritis just over a year ago! Its nice to finally be listened to!

  29. TessaD762

    I love this 60 Second Guide to RA… I have a local support group that I run once a month for RA and Auto Immune disease…I have had RA for 35+ years and this is such a simple explanation..do you mind if i hand it out along with your website???


  30. Pam Chand

    OMG, thankyou for describing exactly how I feel. This upset me because this all happens. Like you said keep positive and there is light at the end of the tunnel, even though it is a long one.

    I have only had it for about 8 months so I am a Newbee, still struggling to find other Newbees, so if there is anyone out there?

  31. Christine

    Wow. In a nutshell. Dx 16 years ago as a young mother. With the help of meds (hit or miss) and kind, compassionate coworkers, I am still able to work and be productive. Thanks for the light-hearted attitude. Makes all the difference!

  32. Anna

    This is perfect! I have printed off a copy for all of my family in hopes to better help them understand. I am one of those who does not looks sick….. but am now 36 and walking with a cane. People always look at me funny….I cry alot…it has been 4 years and tons of medicine….pain always breaks though eventually…..but I love this!!!!!! Thanks RA guy.

  33. Jaci

    Ahhh!!! finally someone who understands!!! The oil can was the perfect way to put it! I call my self a “tin man” that just needs an oil can to feel better!
    Thank you RA guy!

  34. sally

    just stumbled across this ..i am 43 and was diagnosed with seronegative inflamatory arthritis a few months back and am now on methotrexate which seems to be doing the trick. twelve months prior to my disgnosis i had just completed radiotherapy for a sarcoma in my thigh and i thought that was bad enough, but the impact of arthritis is actually greater than the impact of cancer…sadly people dont understand arthritis and its many variants. its more painful, more debilitating and more depressing than my particular cancer…and whats more we get to keep it for life..cant be surgically removed cant be zapped and cant be chased away by drugs. more people need to be educated in the difference between osteo and rheumatoid…well done RA guy

  35. Dee

    Very good! I’m 30 and have had active RA for about 7 years. There is an occasional remission but people don’t understand that you have some pain everyday. And one of my biggest pet peeves is “oh I have that in my knee; where is yours?” They just don’t get it. It’s everywhere in us and, no, you don’t have the same thing as me! You can take an advil and be fine. I take a variety of pills, shots, IV meds and let’s not forget cream for the secondary psoriasis that’s developed on my hands! Thanks for the website. Keep it up!

  36. Arthritis

    This is a great breakdown, thanks. I have a few friends that would really appreciate this, will be sending it on.

  37. bonniegknight

    Yes, you nailed it perfectly! Well said, RA Guy. Now to get my family to read this. I’ve had RA for about 3 years now, and as you know it’s royal pain in they you know what. But we deal as best we can, do all we can to fight it with our team of specialists, and try to live each day as pain free as possible. I’ve also had Osteo arthritis for a long time now, which came about as a result of losing an argument with a stubborn horse who decided he was not going to let me ride him where I wanted to go. I ended up on the ground knees first. I was in my 20’s then, but the years added up to 3 scopes for torn meniscus, followed by one total knee replacement, the onset of RA (not caused by the horse) and then the other knee replacement, which has helped so very much I’d highly recommend it to anyone who needs it done. It is very painful at first, but that subsides in no time at all. With physical therapy, I was back on my feet in about a month’s time with continued improvement daily and back to walking around with no cane needed in a few short months. Having those knee replacements has made my life with RA much easier and better – the RA can’t get inside those knees now, but it can get around them – I just don’t allow it to do that. Taking the mtx as prescribed, and a little prednisone now and then when it flares up keeps the RA pretty well in check. I do hate having RA, but I can’t complain. I knew someone when I was a teenager who had RA with no treatment available to keep her from being crippled. She was terribly crippled, in pain most of the time, and not able to enjoy her life as we now can while living with RA. The treatments now available have allowed all of us to live much better lives than we could if we had had this disease many years ago. We all need to be thankful for all the treatments and help that is now available to us. I know I am. And thankful for your website and all the great information available here. Great job, RA Guy!

  38. Tina

    You have made this so simple that I used it to explain to my elementary school aged kids what is wrong with their mother! I love that you explained it with pictures and the superheros and everything, now all my family really understands the situation.

  39. Liz P

    This is so awesome! You’ve totally hit the nail on the head with your 60 sec guide to RA. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to link to it on my FB page. Maybe it will help the people I know understand a little bit more about what I’m dealing with.

    Love your blog, btw!

  40. Holly

    Just stumbled across your site. I’m so grateful for what you’ve done here. I’m 26 and was dx w/ RA when I was 12. I’ve been on tons of meds which have never seemed to work. Except of course for high doses of prednisone, but that’s not ideal. I finally got my insurance to cover Enbrel and am having high hopes for that. Otherwise, my dr just encourages me to take high doses of ibuprofin and vicodin which seems sort of like having a limb torn off and placing a bandaid over it. It’s always frustrating when people just don’t understand the pain, fatigue, & depression. Thanks for this online community.

  41. "Belle" Belinda Langley

    Thank you RA Guy and thank you Elizabeth for pointing out the unpredictable nature of rheumatoid disease. (I am really trying not to call it arthritis any more to stop the confusion) I find that the way a flare can present at any time, then subside, only to appear in another joint entirely. This leads to others doubting the sufferer because of this scenario: On Monday a flare presented in the ligaments and tendons on my right wrist and hand. Coworker expressed concern when she saw the swelling, deformity and obvious pain. Tuesday the coworker asks “Hey, how’s your arm?” (genuinely concerned) “Why are you limping?” You reply: Thanks for asking. My arm is better, but now my knee… **Suspicious glance then rolling of the eyes** –>> sadness. I want to disappear, wish I was invisible. Easier than explaining again and again, but furthers the problem of ignorance of the general public and even some of the medical community.
    Thanks for your blog. You are my heros!

  42. lynnie

    RAGuy,Im an older walnut58years that has been for some time trying to make sense the RA that i’ve been diagnosed with 8years ago.Yes,my initial thought?old people get this.
    You have broken the shell that cocooned me when I fell upon
    your site.I have been trying to make sense of this dibilitating
    disease,let alone explain to people why I have it and having to justify myself as you say,”you dont look ill”.
    Frustrating?yes! that people wont go out of the way to research
    this dreadful condition and understand that a little cream
    rubbed into the joint just wont fix it..grr!
    The only reason im standing upright is the various meds that my
    Rheumatologist perscribed me.I felt so isolated for sometime
    thinkng I was alone on this path.
    thanks for your eyeopener.As my son says’You rock!’

  43. Lauretta

    Hi RA Guy!
    I wanted to request permission to use this “60 sec guide to RA” because I think it’s absolutely brilliant!
    I’m putting this in my zine and wish I had this around with me much earlier on, to show all those people who cocked their heads at me when I said I had Arthritis! If you want more info about how/where/what I decide to do with my zine, please look under the post labelled “Attention all Arthritis bloggers! Opportunity to have your words published in a zine.”
    Also, if you like the idea of having a piece of your work published in my zine, please let me know!
    All the best and keep on fighting with your superpowers! ;)Lauretta

  44. Maddie

    I couldn’t have out it better myself! So many people don’t understand that age isn’t a factor. I’m 18 and they think ive have RA since I was 12. People mean well when they say, ” you don’t look sick” but sometimes it feels like a personal attack. Anyways, brilliantly done 🙂

  45. swerky

    I was diagnosed with RA a couple of months ago. I’m overweight but managed to lose 10 pounds in two months as per doctor’s advice. I still need to lose 15 more pounds to reach my ideal weight, been thinking about joining the gym but I’m scared. I don’t want the gym to be one reason that adds to my morning stiffness – which gets pretty ugly when I’m overworked the day before – but I really wanna lose weight, what do you think, join the gym or just do with light exercise. Thanks mate, I really loved reading your log. Cheers

  46. Jan

    Thanks for this simple, explanatory guide. I put it on my blog, giving you credit. Hope that’s okay.

  47. Sheila Dennis Toby

    Very clear, concise descriptive view! Excellent job. People of all ages can relate to the terms you used to describe RA.

  48. Chris

    Great job. Ive had RA for 7 years now and it is definitely something that will always be a work in progress to cope with. I recently had my pharmacist tell me about a lady she met and her daughter recently was diagnosed. Both her and her mom are having a really hard time dealing with this and I was able to reach out and kind of walk them through my experiences and help them with coping with theirs. At first you feel really alone, but having someone who UNDERSTANDS whats RA really is can be the difference maker. Glad you created this site for people to connect about this P.O.S. disease 😉

  49. Prakasha

    Bravo! If I could jump around, I would do that now with enthusiasm for this great presentation. I’m off to link to this on Facebook and recommend it to friends with RA. Thank you!

  50. Mandy

    This is such a great description of RA! I was diagnosed this year, after having my first child. I am only 30 and am now pregnant with my second child and therefore my RA is active and untreated right now. I’m still trying to learn about RA and how to deal. I am searching for encouragement, and am so glad I found your blog. Thank you! I will be checking it often!

  51. Gabe

    I was diagnosed at 29, when I was the proud owner 2 bar/restaurants here in Hawaii. I always smirked at life thinking I had the upper hand and was well on my way to early retirement and my life long dream of traveling. I had a very fast acting/severe form of ra, and only a few years later was forced to sell the businesses due to being so sick. I always try to put my “best joint forward” and not relate to people how sick I really am, for fear of being treated or thought of differently. Sometimes I believe I did myself a disservice as no one seems to understand how I went from an overachiever to underachiever in a short span of a few years. I’m 35 now and don’t think other people will ever really understand. But I forgive them as I am sure I would not have understood that the pain in your wrist could be much worse than cutting it off with a dull butter knife. Unfortunately it’s also pretty much everywhere- even my jaw and throat. I just wish I could feel comfort again someday- you know, the kind most people take for granted. I am glad however, that my mind is still intact (minus the depression, loss of energy, and medicine side effects like from prednisone). I recently watched an interview of Micheal J foxx, and realized that he has to be even stronger than me to deal with his issues every day, and there are others even worse off. So sometimes putting things in perspective helps me to cope. It’s inspiring R.A. Guy- that you’ve found a way to find purpose in life through your disease- thanks for the inspiration man, you are really a role model for us all. 🙂

  52. Tabby

    This is absolutely wonderful. A quick yet informative little piece of reading that can be helpful to those who have RA or may know someone who does, or might not have any clue what the disease is. I grew up with RA, got it when I was 5, and it was hard to see that people- both kids AND adults- didn’t have a clue what the disease was even as the years passed and more people got it. I used to discuss it for show-and-tell, or volunteer to give speeches on it in classes like Health(after never seeing it in a health book, ever). Really wish this had been around then.

  53. Heather

    I wish I could forward this to every single person I know. One person in particular who accused me of being a drug seeker because I hadn’t had a definitive diagnosis yet and get this, SHE’S IN THE MEDICAL FIELD!!!! They’re already conditioning her to doubt the patient. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

  54. kim

    JUst wanted to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, and from the bottom of my mangled feet:) there are a couple of RA bloggers who have given me hope, determination, information and courage to face this overwhelming twist in the road of my life-and it;s you that I keep returning to for answers-
    its info like your 60 second guide that has taught me what is going on in my body, and I have found the most comprehensive, true to life info in the blogs of people like you-
    and my best wishes to you in your journey!

  55. Jaime

    Well said! Thank you for the way you presented RA for those who don’t understand. It was fun while you told it how it is.

  56. D. Leach

    One word sums it up! Brilliant!

    Triumph is what happens when we add ‘umph’ to the word ‘try’.

    So that is all us RA have to keep in mind.We will have alot of UMPHS but keep TRYing and your day will be triumphant!!

  57. Tricia

    Fabulous! You put it all so clearly. I’ve posted it to my wall on FB, so hopefully my friends will ‘get it’.

  58. sarah

    thanks for putting this together – it’s perfect. I’m going to circulate it to friends and co-workers – thanks again!!

  59. Marija

    Thank you very much on this. I am from Belgrade, Serbia. My mother developed RA more than 20 years ago and we both have been living with it since, each one in their own way. It is really as you described it. My mom is a fighter, one of those that doesn’t look sick and actually never was depressed. But, everything else is there. Great point is Team RA. So, I use this opportunity to pay tribute to all wonderful doctors that are helping us: dr Goran Radunović – rheumatologist, dr Vesna Mijailović – endocrinologist, dr Milan Mijailović – cardiologist and all the others. I send love to all who live with this disease and respect for your patience and courage. Take care!

  60. Phyliss

    amazing description – thank you – it made me feel just a little better about having this disease and a little less alone. I am going to share this with friends and family. You put into words – what I could not – and exactly how I feel. Thank You <3

  61. Natasje

    Great going! I think you should go into overtime and add the neurological symptoms: confusion, memory loss, brain fog… dizziness and falling over at the ripe age of 34. It’s scary. You rock!

  62. Diana

    GREAT list! So true, so true! However, I would like to comment on one issue…

    “Many people confuse RA with osteoarthritis, another form of arthritis which is typically associated with age.”

    I beg to differ on this one. I know at least a dozen folks personally, and several others via the same doctor, including myself AND my husband, who are affected by osteoarthritis and none of us are “old” or “aged.” (What constitutes the exact age of being “old” anyway??) I realize you didn’t actually use the word “old” in this sentence (and you did say “typically”, yes), but just as the same irritates you when people refer to you as being too young to have RA, it irritates us in the same way when people say we’re too young to have ANY form of arthritis, let alone that it’s osteoarthritis.

    Okay, ‘nough said. Thanks for letting me speak… I’ll get down off the stump now. 🙂

    I am grateful for your website. So much great information here for all of us who suffer these diseases! Thank you!

  63. Nicole

    I am in my 30’s and was diagnosed with RA in my 20’s. This explanation is very good, but I would just like to add that it is not just joints and occasionally organs that become inflamed. This disease attacks our whole body. I have have never had any major hand issues, but I have had muscles and cartilige in my rib cage and my throat inflame as well as tendons (a tendon in my ankle actually tore from inflammation) and my eyes (I lost partial vision once during a flare – thankfully, it came back), and I have scarring in my lungs. People need to know ALL of the serious effects of this disease and how we with RA statistically have our lives shortened by it. Thanks.

  64. izennah

    This is absolutely incredible RA Guy! You inspire me everyday as I Thrive Autoimmune. If I am able to help just one person, they way you have helped me through my journey, then it will have all been worth it. Although I don’t suffer from RA, I connect so deeply with your experience. I can’t tell you how much it means to connect with AI. Luminaries like you & your community, Thriving so courageously!

    I put together my own little infographic AI. Guide (though it’s quite a bit more girly & glittery) http://ilivelightly.com/thriving-autoimmune and a pretty diagram of my AI experience http://ilivelightly.com/my-ai-journey. Your 60 second guide to RA was the first thing I was able to show my boyfriend that gave him an idea of what my journey has been like, allowing me to be open and honest about my illness for the first time. I want to be able to do for Gorgeous AI. Girls what you have done for RA Superheroes! Thank you.

    Love izennah xo

  65. Moira

    Your article is absolutely brilliant!! What makes it so is the fact the “layman”, without the disease, can read this and hopefully understand on a better level. You are very right when you say that a “person doesn’t necesarily look sick” but we are ……!!

    Thank you for sharing.

  66. Try2BaSupermom

    I have a 3 year old little boy who was diagnosed with juvenile RA at 20 months….now that he has the language to tell me when he is in pain….I can help him manage his flairs….but this is a great way to help him understand his disease process….since he is soooo into super heroes now! Thanks!

  67. Lisa

    I think there should be a pamphlet to give to people who ask questions and say why dont you work, and You dont look sick, and you were not this tired a few months ago, I appreciate this article and have forwarded this to my friends, I only wish Most people who Generally knew me would have a clue, I hate the Looks

  68. Susan

    Thank you so much for simply validating my feeling of craziness! I’m sick to death of the people closest to me constantly telling me join Curves you’ll feel so much better, meanwhile I went to a PT to start RA “exercise and got a flare-up so bad I was out of work for 2 days. I do believe I have serious joint damage . I was diagnosed almost 3 yrs. ago and got off the steroid (against my dr. wishes) after I gained 30 lbs. which BTW made walking so much more difficult! I still haven’t taken the weight off . My RA dr. doesn’t ever seem to think I’ll reduce my 8 pills of MTX/once a wk. Everytime I see him he gets so annoyed that I’m not taking the steroids. He actually has an attitude w/ me! UGH He’s the 3rd RA dr. I’ve been to they’re all nuts! Anyway Thank you so much for validating my pain and not make me feel lie I’m on the pity pot b/c that has never been me but since this RA has creeped into so many joints one can’t help but 🙁

  69. Sarah

    Very good super hero! I’m glad I found your site. I have Fibro along with RA and when I read “feeling like being run over with a Mack truck” I laughed because that is the phrase I have used frequently.

  70. Amanda deSouza

    I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis back in 2009 when i was 20. It didn’t start to affect me a great deal until a couple months ago. I feel like death in the morning! There really isn’t any other way to describe it. I can barely get out of bed, i just want to cry because I’m in so much pain! The pain does seem to get better throughout the day unless I lay in bed. I really want to get back into the work force, but right now I don’t know if that’s possible..

  71. Andy

    I was diagnosed with RA in 2002, I have managed to keep in full time work with the exception of major flare up episodes, I continue to ride the rollercoaster that is living with RA, I try to keep positive & really make the most of the good times, wow what joy to have a dance !! Do not let anyone put you down keep fighting !! Many thanks RA Man ”Don’t Suffer in silence people” its bad for you.

  72. Mary

    Thank you for your 60 sec guide. My college age daughter recently found out she has RA. She is learning to live without soccer and running. She is having to learn to live with the fatigue. It is so hard for her to ask for help. And, some of the other RA blogs do not offer support only horror stories.I know I can never understand how she hurts, but your short guide at least attempts to put the meanness of RA in a simple language that the the people who love and support her can understand. Sending the guide to her “new” teammates.

  73. Kate

    Does your RA pain radiate to adjacent bones? (I.e. between wrist and elbow) and sometimes it feels like the bone marrow hurts?

  74. Kate

    My mother is refusing to understand what RA really means. She would always reply “I had my wrist double the size that other time (possible OA although not diagnosed)” and “you don’t see how tired I am. You just don’t want to work”. I have not even received a confirmed diagnosis, however I have polyarthritis and positive anti-CCP test. The most frustrating thing I noticed with RA is that no one who doesn’t have it does not have the ability to comprehend and grasp what is it precisely. Even typing right now hurts – people always compare you to someone else, someone who has cancer or something else. Like someone I think here has said, those who have cancer at least get a strong support network because everyone knows the disease and everyone is compassionate. However “arthritis” is known in all cultures and is always associated with old age wear and tear. Rheumatoid Arthritis sounds alright because it has arthritis in it. Nowhere in the name does it say “autoimmune” or “all joints are hurting at the same time” or “debilitating” or “life sentence” and etc.

    Here’s a tip for all you RA’rs out there: If you have RA and you ask a person with swollen hands “what’s wrong with your hand?”, they say “arthritis”, and you will ask (only if you’re RA’r) “what kind?” and when they answer “Rheumatoid” you (only if you’re RA’r) gasp and say “oh my god….”. When a person replies any other way, don’t get upset with them, after all, they are not knowledgeable. Only a person with RA will say “oh my god.. rheumatoid” because only a person with RA knows what Rheumatoid is. Everyone else who say “oh, ok” and/or start comparing you and/or saying things like “try to forget about it and move on with your life! What you’re doing is just dwelling on it! So now what? ?”

  75. Sheila

    To Kate:
    I was just diagnosed with none reactive RA (no ra factor in blood). I just asked last visit with Rom. asked her that question? why did my arms hurt and are hot right where yours do. All she said was oh maybe its the tendons. not really an answer! As a newbee I have so many questions. I have no idea what to expect next. On metho/and prednson. up to 5 a week.
    not doing a heck of a lot. I had a flair up this past week. It was so painful had to take rings off I’ve had on for 40 years. It is tiring saying ( no its not the same as oa no I don’t have what u have. Huh! I always get OH everyone ends up with arthritis. No not this one.
    I have a question for all has any one done any dietary changes that may help with the inflammation. Ive gotten so many different answers.My Rmmy had the nerve to tell me that this disease is BORING to treat. Well if your the one with it .its not to darn boring.
    To Susan: People have no idea what u feel like I can’t even walk have as far as I used to, I swell up like mad on short walks. I was swimming a very very short swim everything hurt when I was done I just cried. I couldn’t believe it. I’m confused u read in one place to keep moving and then u just can’t. coloring w/ grandson hurts I mean really ( coloring) I am older 61 than most of u but it doesn’t mean I want my life as I know it to end.

  76. Darren

    I have had severe RA since I was about 17 years old ! I am 39 now and boy has RA changed my life and been one hell of a Roller coaster ride ! I had my left hip replaced when I was 23 due to RA and I just had an Ankle Fusion in November of 2011 and then I just had my right knee replaced 4 weeks ago today June 18 2012 ! I had to go on total disability in Dec of 09 due to my arthritis getting totally out of hand and flairing up to the point that I was missing way more work than I should ! It was a very hard decision but with my family and doctors pushing I finally went on Permanent Disability and it’s been a journey to say the least ! I deal with bouts of depression and feeling hopeless at times ! Living in chronic pain day in and day out can sure wear a person down no matter how positive you try and stay ! It’s hard to even explain the pain associated with RA unless you are talking to another person that has it ! It does me good to talk with others that live with this disease and to vent to them because unless you have lived with this wicked pain people have a hard time understanding ! My family bless their hearts try to understand and they give me awesome love and support ! My RA has Never gone into remission, although I pray that someday it might ! Every single joint in my body has been affected ! Even my jaws ! As my sister says there is a special place in Heaven for people that live with this wicked disease ! My near future holds a right hip replacement and a remodel on my left hip ! My left hip is showing wear but I can’t complain cause its given me 16 years of pain free living ! I also will need a left knee replacement before long ! My right knee that I had done 4 weeks ago today is doing awesome ! I was riding my bike 9 days after surgery and I can’t even tell I ever had it replaced except for the fact that all the pain and swelling is gone ! Anyway sorry for venting sometimes it just feels good ! Cool website and to everybody out there battling RA keep your head up and try to look at the positive side of life !

  77. Sam

    I never Knew what RA was till the doctor told me I have it. It took me 9 months after that to accept the facts that I have it. I will show this website to many people that are having hard time understanding RA pain. When you tell them you are in pain and you can’t do stuff they thing you are just making it up

  78. Kathy

    Just a note to say thanks for the 60 second “guide” to RA. I’ve posted it on my facebook page. I’ve never been able to describe (in short form anyway) the full consequences of RA….but this will certainly help. Thanks again and take care.

  79. Meghan

    Thank you fit pointing out that kids get arthritis too! My oldest daughter is almost 7 and was diagnosed with JIA a year and half ago. It sucks!

  80. char

    I think this needs to to be posted in every work place that has a employee with RA maybe than they would understand this is not the common cold. RA guy you really are the best.

  81. Crystallarel

    Wow! Here I’m feeling frustrated because I can’t seem to get my house clean (yet I teach full time and have a 15 month old baby girl) why didn’t anyone tell me the exhaustion was normal?!? Doctors need to tell people this stuff right away so they see it coming! Good job!

  82. mary

    I am 79 years old. Was finally diagnosed 24 years ago. I have an excellent rheumatologist. I was one of the first people taking Embrel. It saved me from despair.
    I had an aunt with rheumatoid when I was a child. She was given aspirin as her med for pain and nothing else. Thus, adding to her physical pain, she got ulcers.
    I also am sick of people showing me a hand or a finger to compare their arthritis with mine. they have no clue!!

  83. Coko

    I was diagnosed with JRA at 8 months. I have always had a positive outlook on life, but after 18 years of chronic pain and no one understanding what I was going through. It became harder and harder to stay positive. I found RA Guy on twitter and I was so happy to read others stories. It was so inspiring to see what great things people just like me where doing with their live. It lifted my spirits and I can honestly say my positive attitude has been restored 🙂

  84. mindy may

    I have had RA since the age of three. I am now 18 and what began in just the knee has now spread throughout my body. This article is very accurate and i appreciated it a lot. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “but your too young.” Its nice to see people who understand the disease.

  85. justlee

    I just signed in with you RAGuy and I feel better already. Reading others stories makes me see that I am not alone, and I can find a way to explain to people just why I can’t do things!!! Will be back to share routinely.

  86. Mel Sellman

    Thank you RA Guy 🙂 I have shared this with everyone I know, I have had RA for over 20yrs now (I’m 36) & have always found it hard to explain how RA can & does affect me…. & now I can get them to read your blog, & know they will understand a little better


  87. g oneill

    just been diagnosed with ra im 57 have left knee replacement du to oa. l knee is very painfuly and dibilitating ? due ot oa or ra or both. When you are my age can consider oa on joints due to wear and tear especially after beeing rgn for nearly 40 years.

  88. The mad gimper

    Very well done sir! Having had JRA since I was 16 months old, now going on 30, I’ve always tried to “dumb” it down for the common lay person who asks and I’ve never been able to. This has made this much easier now. Thank you

  89. Sonya flemmings

    Thankyou so much for this, it is so hard to describe this horrible disease to people.

  90. Susan

    I was diagnosed with ra when I was 45 – however, I now know in retrospect that the fact that I got tired easily even in my 20s and 30s and never seemed to have the same level of energy as other people was due to the fact that ra can come on slowly, as I understand – the auto immune attacking process is underway for many years and then at some point it begins to manifest itself in the joints – i am now 54 and have been on plaquenil for many years -I also take omega 3 fish oils, flaxseed oil, and lots of other anti-inflammatory vitamins and minerals – I think it has prevented me from getting ‘even worse’ – however, I am in pain every day, and it has been getting worse especially over the past 3 years – It is very accurate, how you describe it – in fact, I have used that phrase ‘it feels like you’ve been run over by a mack truck’ to my family and they really do not understand – I would never have understood. I spent so much time fighting it in my mind and listening to people tell me ‘you’re depressed, you’re just getting old, etc’ and I see that other people my age are fine – more tired but not like this where it is hard to move at all times and the pain is constant – I am also worried because I have 3 children, ages 20 18 and 16 and a very difficult ex husband – and I worry about my kids and my future -as I have no support system – and my family has turned away from this not wanting to have to take any responsibility for it – they have just said ‘you’re on your own’ and ‘go to a therapist’ – they do not want to help – My two daughters also have illnesses and it is hard seeing them suffer as you try to get through the day with all the strength you can muster -I’d like to add also that there is a connection between pollutants and toxins and ra – that is why there is an association of people who smoke having a great risk of getting ra – i live in a major congested city and having ra here is awful because you never get a break from the stress – i think that stress has a lot to do with getting this disease – and the stress of the city, and a very very difficult spouse made this come on – as well as very difficult parents – oh well, I found your description very helpful and right on = thank you -people need to understand about this disease and that it is ‘not in our heads’. i hurt every day and even going to the grocery store is difficult = and i wanted to be this great mother to my kids and I can’t – i can’t negotiate an apartment, never mind a house – i find it so hard to understand why the people who are closest to you do not understand just how painful and difficult this is -they attribute it to ‘you need therapy’ – i even had a family member say ‘prove to me you have ra’ because there are so many people who don’t have the positive rh factor – but i have the positive anti ccp – also i find the rheumatologists to just be awful -they just want to give you mexotrexate or some other strong drug and none of them has ever suggested trying more holisti measures – i just pray that my children don’t get this – it is a hard thing to be given – thank you for this supportive and wonderful website.

  91. Jacq

    I fear this fate will be mine. A recent dramatic swelling of my inguinal lymph nodes and immediate crippling pain in every joint. I can barely move or function. I’m a nervous wreck and terrified. 39 and I’m falling apart. Always having a great body, feeling good and on the go…hopeless does not express my anguish. High heels, sundresses, mini skirts and being a social butterfly are replaced with slow, cautious and fraile everything!. Ug. Thank you for the article. One day at a time.

  92. Lee Green

    Hi, I was diagnosed at 15 with arthritis, the doctor patted me on the back and said well you can’t really do those sports anymore. I ignored him. I threw the Doctor note away and was on the track team and even a girls football team with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I never took medicine for it. If I was sore I wrapped my knees and went for a run. I fought this illness and was winning for 30 years. Then I got in a motorcycle accident 3 years ago, I am struggling now. I have no resources for help and live in a new state becaue my husband is disabled and we lost our home up north. We were hoping a move to warmer climate would help us both to make the best of things. Side note he is doing very well. I have been in flare for 366 days. in a row. I take tylenol when I can’t walk. I can’t find any clinics here and have only managed to get a part time job. Please don’t think this is a sob story it is not. I am living with this and working and walking. and out thinking it most of the time. The support from others with RA is fantastic. I inhereted RA, and my father always said Honey if nothing hurts you are probably dead. So I take that and remind myself of how vwry lucky I am. If anyone that reads this lives in Florida and knows any facilities that work with RA that would be great. For now I keep on keeping on. Thanks!

  93. Carlie

    Brilliant! Your site has helped me so much. At 18 years of age and having arthritis since birth, I have no confidence whatsoever, and that’s all down to my Juvenile Arthritis. I struggle with simple encounters with people, and have always tried my best to avoid standing out. The biggest struggle in my life is being in public, for example taking the bus. I always feel like I have to stand up, and fair enough I’d rather give someone else a seat even when I’m in pain, but some days when I’m in so much pain and a middle age/elderly person gets got on I have to stand up, even when I’m probably in 10x more pain than that person. I feel like everyone’s looking at me and thinking badly of me if I don’t stand. I don’t want to be seen as a bad person through societies eyes, but I also don’t want to be crippled for the rest of the day. I spent 5 months last year paralyzed and in hospital. Now I’m determined to change the way that I view life and gain more confidence. So thank you for your blog, thank you for giving me a bit of hope.

  94. Jackie T.

    You hit the nail on the head. People need to be educated about RA. I’m 51 years old and I’ve had RA for about 10 years. Some days are better than others. Some days I can barely function. I love the people that look at me and say, “oh you look fine”. Yeah, right.

    I’m glad I found your site. Keep Fightin’ the Good Fight!

  95. Catherine Wester

    Thank you for posting this. It is simple and informative and so true.
    I have been dealing with this illness now since 2009, I just want to rename it Rheumatoid Disease because everyone gets stuck on Arthritis and thinks its like Osteoarthritis with just aches and pains. I have OA also and had to have my hip replaced before I got attacked by RA and it is a world of difference, back then I could take a Tylenol or advil for the pain, now I’m on Plaquenil, Methotrexate and Remicaide infusion every 2 months and pain meds and I still have days where I feel all those things you described in your post. But I try to have a sense of humor about it on the days I feel semi normal, I have even started to loose my hair not sure if its the Methotrexate of the Remicaid or even the RA but I told my Rheumatologist, I just get a wig or wear a scarf, if these meds will prevent damage from setting in for a while longer. Thank you for your sharing of your victories and your struggles as well.

  96. Sharon Blevins

    I am 57 and was diagnosed with RA two years ago. My doctor tells me that it won’t get “that bad” over the years, but has not been able to tell me what that means. I have been in denial about my RA because I don’t think I have it “that bad” and therefore don’t have the right to get down when I run out of energy or I hurt. I always find something else to blame it on like, “I did too much yard work.” or “I had a rough day teaching and am just tired.” This is a different kind of tired and a different kind of pain than I’ve ever had before. I guess because I can’t show people swollen red joints and because I am still able to work full time and take care of my house and yards that I don’t want to think I have RA. My joints hurt ALL the time, I can’t hardly walk in the mornings, I am out of every ounce of excited energy in my body, and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. So now I blame that on menopause. It is always something else in my mind. All because I’m not supposed to have it “that bad.” My husband is 90% disabled because of chronic pain from nerve damage, so in my mind I can’t be hurting because if I REALLY was in pain, I would feel like him. I have a twisted perception of pain because of living with his pain. So, what would be different if I said I have RA? I’ve started telling people, but I’m still trying to figure out what that means and what it feels like in my body. Maybe I’ll learn I need to slow down and that it is OK to not feel good. Maybe… but then again, there are people who really do have RA and maybe I’m just pretending. I feel really confused. I will keep reading and learning and maybe I’ll finally accept that RA comes in different degrees for different people My heart goes out to all of the people that have RA so badly that they cannot continue to move about in life.

  97. Tammy

    Thanks for the wonderful article! It really simplifies what RA is for people who are having a hard time understanding it or for relatives of a RA patient. I can certainly understand and relate to everything you have written. I was diagnosed with it at 35 and I am now 46 and its an up and down road.

  98. Georgette

    I’ve been a FB follower of yours for some time now, and I’ve read through this terrific description of RA several times. When I came across the words “Stress” and “Anxiety”, something clicked for me.
    I was diagnosed in 2002 with RA. Before that time, anxiety was a word and nothing more. It was not until a few moments ago, that I put together the anxiety that creeped into my life over this past 10 years, and the fact that I have RA. What an epiphany! Now, I know that this aspect of my life will begin to make more sense and I have you, and your 60-second guide, to thank for my enlightenment! Thank you for being a superhero to so many, including me!

  99. Di Ssoanes

    You have it spot on the pain is unbearable but you carry on because “that’s life” and take another pill. Tiredness is hard as you keep fighting it…you try and do things that you used to do in half an hour but now takes half a day and a walk to the shop is like a never ending tunnel that you can’t see the end of…it is so sad that people just see you as a slow old cripple when you were used to swimming cycling and running and when just walking the dog is so painful that later that day you have seized up and in so much pain that you can’t do anything else………

  100. Katie

    I don’t know how many times I’ve been told you’re too young! I was diagnosed two years ago at the age of 19. Its actually quite frustrating because most people my age have no idea that this is a disease that can happen at any age and honestly, most people my age have no idea what it is!

  101. Marilyn Rooks

    I was told about twenty years ago that I had tested positive for RA I have not really had any serious symptoms until now, ALL my joints ache like mad and I DO feel terribly tired all the while, my joints ache in the night, the only real relief is a hot bath. I live on a Greek island called Paros so not ideal for much help Until recently have had 5 mg of Prednisalone for asthma every day but stopped at the moment , presumably that is why I have started to ache so much .Please get in touch if you have time as I am an amateur on this subject! I am now 71. so really quite lucky! Mazza Paros!

  102. Stephanie Shiver

    This is the most uplifting thing I have read since I was diagnosed. Thank you. Love to you.

  103. Jim Wikstrom

    I just happened to come across your article, and it is written very good and precise. I am 81 years of age, have RA in the knuckles of my left hand, my middle finger of my right hand is bent a the first joint behind my finger nail; plus my index finger is starting to bend at the same joint. The joints of my thumbs ache constantly. I have had these conditions for about 2 1/2 years now.
    I am very much aware of what people are going through with their arthritis. Other than my RA, I have arthritis throughout my spine and my cervical spine, plus my knees. For my back and cervical spine, I have had to have epidural pain shots.
    I have an interesting plaque on my wall above my computer desk that says: “If I had known I had lived this long….I would have taken better care of myself”.

  104. JDHill

    RA pisses me off for lots of reasons and i’ll share a few. First I look healthy, I tell people i feel bad because i have RA and they say oh yea I got arthritis in my knee too. Sometimes you are so tired you can barley get out of bed for days and most of the time I can’t sleep very long because the pain wakes me up.The drugs suck. If you get sick no infusion. If your labs come back bad no infusion. I’ve been diagnosed over 3 years and just used whiskey for years before i was diagnosed. These drugs and alcohol don’t mix and cost me a marriage and some legal problems. I finally found a med that I think will work they gave me a 1/2 dose and I felt better for the first time in years and my blood work came back bad so i dropped the med that we think caused it and i have to wait for more blood work then wait for an opening for an infusion. RA sucks.

  105. Barbara Whalen

    RA Guy this is a great quick explanation. Is it possible to also add something about what RA does to your heart and lungs and shortened lifespan due to chronic inflammation. Everyone thinks oh well your just in a little extra pain. No big deal.

  106. Judy

    My comment is: there are dietary options. The day I was diagnosed I eliminated everything I was currently eating and began plant based plus fish. Absolutely no:
    Sugar wheat. Gluten meat processed foods with additives you can’t explain, no coffee,alcohol dairy or animal by products such as butter and eggs. 4 months later I was in complete remission and have been for 7 months. No meds, no pain, no stiffness and I lost 40 lbs while not even trying. You’ll probably thni k there’s nothing left to eat. I have fish twice a day. Lots of EVOO and coconut oil. NO bad fats. Have lost cravings for the bad food and quickly. NEVER do I stray. I remember the pain. I got it back once when I tried adding Orzo. Never again. I could probably have a glass of red wine or an alcoholic drink as long as there is no sugar. Every level in my body checks out in the normal range. I also take natural anti inflammatory supplements. Diet change is such a small price to pay for a normal pain free life. I know I still have RA and will forever. But nothing hurts or is being damaged and that’s huge. So see a Naturopath or get your info off the net. It’s all out there. That’s how I accomplished what I did. And I was diagnosed at the age of 71. By my 72 nd birthday I was declared by my Rheumy “in remission “. She claims I made a believer out of her and over this past year she has tried to get me to take different meds but I refused. She monitored my joints. No damage. JUST TRY IT.

  107. Catherine

    My Dad was diagnosed with RA in May of this year (2014), and started on the usual meds in early June (his numbers were around 200 – 300!). He’s 70+, and is used to using his hands (which of course he really can’t right now) This looks like a terrific website for helping me understand a little of what he’s going through – really appreciate this “60 Second Guide” you’ve done! 🙂 Right now, hoping the meds start doing good for him soon, eating healther than usual (I have Celiac so we were already eating rather healthy – and no, he’s not Celiac, but my parents live a mostly Gluten-free life when they can), and he’s trying to get exercise when he can. I’ll definately be looking for some sort of support group for him as he’s still in quite a depressed state (mostly because he feels “useless”) – and I can’t blame him a bit, but I try and get him to look at his situation in a different light. he may not be able to help Mum and I with the back porch partial demo, but his ideas / suggestions on making it easier certainly have saved us a lot of effort! 🙂

    Babbling now! (ha, ha) Thanks a million for sharing your on-going story with the world, and I look forward to learning ever more…


  108. Frances Rieha

    Very good job! Clear concise information…not too technical so most lay persons can understand it. I disagree about your description of ra pain, though. I tell people to remember how it feels when you hit your finger with a hammer or close a door on it. The blood pooling under the nail has nowhere to go and the pressure creates intense, exquisite pain….that’s how a joint experiencing an ra flare feels to me.

  109. Pamela Thompson

    Thank you so much for the 60 Sec. Guide. I just found it by accident, but I am going to print it and always carry it with me. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 32, RA at 49 and Lupus at 56. I am now 62 and I have finally given up trying to work. It has been an uphill battle.. Sometimes the auto immune wins and sometimes I come out on top. As I have gotten older, it seems like I am not winning as much, but I keep on fighting. It is the only way you can deal with this type of disease. I now have a “team” of 5 specialist, but it doesn’t change anything. Some days are bearable, and some are not. But I take one day at a time. I know people mean well when they say,”but you look so good for your age and you don’t look sick.” If they only knew the reason I wear long skirts. It’s to hide the terribly swollen knees and ankles. Makeup and clothes can hide a lot of pain. Keep up the good work. I am going to bookmark your page.

  110. David

    I’m a 56 year old guy that now has only dimming memories of an active life.
    I’ve had RA (diagnosed…) for about 4 years. This year, in February I was further diagnosed with Leukemia – the CLL variety. My wife of 10 years shortly after I told her of the diagnosis, told me that “You know I would leave you in a heartbeat; if I could….” That was the icing on the cake, I guess that removed any hope from her (and me) of a return to a normal life. So, I don’t talk too much about it for fear of being told I’m feeling sorry for myself. So I try to act ‘as if’ I have no problems. But that itself has become a problem.

    It’s nice finding a website like yours. I like the hint of humor. I look for optimism in peoples stories but you know there are very dark places these diseases can take us. Like I told my primary doctor, the only real relief I have is when i can sleep. I am always filtering what I am saying, minimizing the pain and depression. I have a 29 year old son; he knows what’s going on, I have an eight year old sharp as a whip daughter. I have not told her anything yet except I have leg and joint pain a lot. I say that to explain why I rarely ice skate with her. She has never seen me run in eight years. She was in diapers and a stroller when I last was able to run. If I was crossing the street and a car was coming – I don’t think I could manage more than a hobble to get out of the way. I have my own business and it was easy to stay in bed. Not easy to type, not easy to think or walk client to client. Just around the time I started feeling like I was dealing with the RA, I got new doctors, a new approach was needed I felt. It was more a symbolic Phoenix like rebirth of me not letting the disease get me. Well, the new doctor didn’t like something is saw in my bloodwork. He sent me to a ‘blood doctor.’ At the time, I didn’t realize that most ‘blood doctors’ were oncologists. My diagnosis, confirmed was the cancer. It floored me. I am not treated for it yet, but I took it as a death sentence.

  111. Lynne

    Back in the 60s when I was diagnosed with JRA this would have been a very useful tool to help people understand! The good news for me was that I went into remission at 19 and except for a flare up after the birth of my first baby (I have 2 children) and another at menopause, I have been very lucky despite very negative prognosis as a child and teenager. This is a mercurial disease that rarely behaves as expected. God bless all of you who are battling against this painful illness.

  112. Jessica

    This is fantastic and I really love it. Sometimes I read back on it for myself, not just to share with others, as a reminder that I’m not the only one and sometimes it can be explained in a simpler way.

  113. Ragna

    Found this at a peak of a flare and a depression that followed. It took me maybe 30 seconds to read 🙂 but it uplifted my mood for the rest of the day. Thank you. 29, former competitive athlete, RA really changed my life and that forced change really made me depressed. Also, thank you everyone for sharing your stories. While I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, it’s nice to know that there are those out there that understand.

  114. Ragna

    Thought I would just add, one of the most disheartening things was when a friend (a very close friend) said, “maybe it’s just in your head.” This was before diagnosis, and I am certainly not blaming him. He was just trying to help. But a situation like that just makes you feel very alone.

  115. Jacqui

    Help!!!!!!!!! I can’t even use my right hand today at all. Fingers won’t bend, throbbing, hot, and my back and knees aren’t much better than that. What do I need to ask my Dr to get officially diagnosed? I have already tried Meloxicam but it didn’t touch the pain so I gave up after two weeks.

    I just need to feel better. I’m losing mobility. Not sure how I’m going to decorate my Christmas tree this weekend, I can’t even hold the steering wheel of my car with my right hand at this point.


  116. Julia

    My name is Julia and I’m 23. I was just diagnosed with RA this morning. For the past three months my left knee has been unbelievably swollen with no discernible cause. After a battery of tests, including aspirations, MRI’s, and blood work, my rheumatologist came to the conclusion I have seronegative RA. I’m currently taking Prednisone while I wait for the Plaquenil to kick in. Unfortunately these medications are my only current option due to my job occupation that prevents from being able to do the necessary lab work for injections or IV medication.
    I feel frustrated that I’m 23 and having to deal with these kind of issues. I feel embarrassed that my knee is swollen and unsightly. I feel scared not knowing the impact this will have on my life. I feel exasperated knowing I will have to relearn my limitations and what I am able to do versus what I want to be doing. Of course now that my mobility is limited, I fiercely desire to be mobile and active.
    This has been a long day and I understand it will be a learning process for me. But in the midst of it all this website has given me something to smile about. If anyone has any advice, personal stories, similar happenings, or words of advice or encouragement, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I know I’m not alone, but I certainly feel intimidated.

    Thank You,

  117. Cathy

    Julia — I know it’s scary. I was DX a few years ago. I was only on Plaquinel, and was doing fine. Life went on!
    after seeing my Rheumatologist yesterday, getting another RA panel done & xrays — my disease is progressing. I’m now being put on Methotrexate/Folic Acid. Terrified about losing my hair. And I came here looking for advice too.

    I read your post and wanted you to know you aren’t alone. The key is getting treated as soon as possible. Become tight with your MD. I stayed quiet during too many flares the last few years, and I shouldn’t have made that mistake. I should have let him see me at my worst.

    It’s been a month since you’ve posted — I hope the Plaquinel has started kicking in 🙂 And you are feeling more relief

    ** If anyone has any stories about Methotrexate, I’d love to hear them. I’m afraid of the horror stories, but I know it’s a fact of life. I took my first dose last night. So far, so good. It’s still early tho. I was up the entire night. Didn’t fall asleep once. I hope it was just anxiety, and not a preview of what I have to look forward to.

    Thanks – Cathy

  118. Melissa

    I was diagnosed at 38. I am now almost 42. I live in chronic pain. I think my family is tired of hearing me complain. I have a hard time functioning. Can’t take any meds because they make me more sick. Are there any other alternatives to help relieve pain?

  119. Nate Adams

    You hit this right on the head!! I coach baseball and basketball. I have a handicapped pass for parking. I use it, but a lot of time, I have to carry equipment. I have actually had people accuse me of stealing it or using it illegally. One guy even blocked me in and flagged down a cop. When I showed them the scars on my hands and my shoulders from multiple surgeries the man said “you don’t have to park there if it’s only in your hands.” I dropped my pants in the parking lot to show the scars on my knees from the damage and then the spots on my back where they had just done a spinal tap and the disfigurement in my spine. The officer ran my plates and license and the letter from my rheumatologist to the state showing that I have RA.
    The officer then proceeded to write the individual a ticket for illegal parking in a handicapped zone for $250! The officer then offered to carry the ball bucket to the dugout and apologized profusely. I told him that he doesn’t have to apologize. Found out that the guy who accused me of “faking it” son was our opponents’ starting pitcher. My boy launched a 330′ bomb on the first pitch, a 3 run shot. He looked at me and just smiled, when he crossed home plate-he pointed at the guy and said “my dad taught me how hit”. The good Lord has one hell of a sense of humor!

  120. Christine Whittaker

    thanks for providing this information and discussion. I am now 46 years old and have had RA since I was diagnosed around 4 1/2 years old. I have been working for around 29 years now/

  121. Carl Vincent Johanson

    Hi! My name is Carl Johanson & I am 48 years old recently have right foot ankle pain & both knees pain from walking biking & fitness group & often get lower back pain is any thing that can cure the pain when doing exercise routine.

  122. Diane

    You want to smack someone when they tell you all you need to do is start stretching in the morning when you get up, but you cant smack them because your swollen, painful hand and wrist will hurt more after you do!! 🙂 Little do they know you can barely hold a cup of coffee in the morning you hurt so bad!

  123. Michelle Wright

    You hit this right on the head!! I get so tired of hearing but you are so young, or you don’t look sick. Sorry I wear clothes to hide my deformities and on the really bad days I don’t go anywhere..

  124. Barbara

    mine started with hot swollen balls of the feet, could hardly walk. Went to Gp, had ANA blood test, raised at 349. Urgent referral to rheumatologist, seen within 10 days. Diagnosed and commenced on Planequil, methotrexate and folic acid immediately. So diagnosed and treatment started within the vital 3 month period of symptoms starting. Rheummy tells me that research has shown that early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent long term damage to joints. The fatigue has eased. I do get pain in my thumbs and middle fingers and big toes, but this is intermittent. If I feel I need it I see my GP and have a shot of 160mgs depo medrone and that sorts things out. I feel I’m lucky to have an early diagnosis and a great GP.

  125. Morgan Matheson

    I am so happy I stumbled across this website your words could not ring truer I was diagnosed with JRA when I was just two years old I am now in my mid-thirties and still have constant flare-ups in pain .it is nice to know that there are other people out there. I think the hardest of it all is as you said above people co-workers family they look at you and say well you don’t look sick meanwhile you are so tired and in so much pain you can barely bear to stand and they don’t understand it

  126. Kimberly

    If Batman is your immune system, and the RA Guy isn’t Robin, is Robin the Ben’Gay? LOL. I can’t sleep because I have RA Pain. Where is Robin when you need him? LOL. Very informative but sort of a bad super hero story!

  127. Natalie

    I have just come across this website after months of trawling the internet for advice and also ‘RA for dummies’ explanations to show my family and friends. Being only 23 i think may friends and colleges struggle to understand the daily impact on living with RA, hopefully this will help!

    Thanks RA Guy

  128. Lindabk

    I was diagnosed with RA just within the past year along with sjogrens,chronic pancreatitis & severe osteoporosis. The RA seems to be getting worse & worse. I had the experience the other night of my toes twisting & spasming uncontrollably It hurt so bad I was crying & my hubby massaged my feet until it settled down enough to tolerate. Does this happen to anyone else? My fingers have done this but never my toes….This is an awesome website, i have been looking for someplace to connect & this looks like it. Thanks RA Guy!

  129. The Age of Philiscious

    We need to stop calling this condition rheumatoid arthritis. It diminishes the response from society and doctors when we tell them we have it. We no longer should be treated in the same group as osteoarthritis sufferers.
    I propose we rename this disease Cruxifixtion Syndrome.
    Everyday our ankles and wrists feel like they have been nailed to a cross, our backs and chest ache as if strectched against the cross timber, our neck lashed against the beam unable to turn.
    (Who in their times of flare up looked up and asked ‘why have you forsaken me?’)
    This would logically also mean all of us who have been struck down with cruxifixtion syndrome(RA) truly are the saints of this world. We are the beautiful souls of the human face who must endure hardship more than most, to show others life is too short to complain,sweat the small stuff,react in anger or to never try to achieve your dreams.
    So if anyone asks you whats wrong youFight through the pain, fight through the ignorance of others, confront doctors who are indifferent to your level of pain and tell them you have an auto immune disease called Cruxifixion Syndrome.

  130. Sobhana kumari

    I was diagnosed with RA for few years and under treatment both in allopathy and aurvedic .I am 69. Last month my son and family came from USA and I exerted too much ,they returned .After they left ,I got pain in all the joints that no one can understand my feelings .My hubby was little bothered about me.Sometimes my brain also not working properly .NOW LIFE IS LITTLE DEFICULT .

  131. Camden Broadwater

    Excellent source of info on RA. Please add me to your list. I have a daughter who suffers from RA. I don’t believe we have enough info on this disease.

  132. Kelly

    This is a nurse giving you kudos on your “60-Second Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Very nicely done!

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