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We aim to provide information and support for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Their families, friends and carers, as well as health professionals with an interest in RA.
To support all with RA or JIA t live life to the full.
- Support everyone with the impact of RA and JIA at the start and throughout their journey.
- Infom: Be their first choice for reliable information.
- Empower: All to have a voice and take control of their RA or JIA.
The awareness week for this condidtion was the 17th – 23rd June (ie last week) So I thought that they deserved a Focus On section.
What is it?
If you say arthritis most people assume you’re talking about wear and tear on the joints, which many older people have. That’s Osteoarthritis or OA. Rheumatoid Arthritis is different, or RA as it is commonly known.
RA is a type of disease , known as an autoimmune condition This means that your bodies immune system has made a mistake and picked a wrong target.
Your immune system is designed to defend your body against infection. It should not attck your body. Sometimes the immune system becomes too active, and mistakenly attacks your body. This is called an autoimmune disease.
When you have RA your immune system attacks the lining of your joints (called the synovial lining). This causes inflammation which leads to symptoms such as pain and stiffness.
The signs and symptoms to be aware of are:
- Pain, swelling and possibly redness around your joints. Hands and Feet are often affected first, though RA can start in any joint.
- Stiffness in your joints when you get up in the morning or after sitting for a while, which lasts for more than 30 minutes and has no other obvious cause.
- Fatigue that’s more than just normal tiredness.
IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SYPTOMS GO AND SEE YOUR GP. THE SOONER RA IS DIAGNOSED AND TEATED, THE BETTER THE LONG TERM OUTCOMES ARE LIKELY TO BE.
RA is symmetrical arthritis, meaning it ususally effects both sides of the body in a similar pattern, although this is not always the case. It tends to affect the small joints of the hands and feet first – often the knuckle joints in the fingers. It is described as polyarthritis meaning that many joints can be inflamed.
RA is a systemic disease. This means that it doesn’t just affect the joints. RA can affect a whole persons system, including, heart, lungs and eyes.
If RA is not treated or is inadequately treated, it can cause irreversible damage to joints and lead to disability. This used to happen often. These days the management of RA is very good and far better than it was even 15 years ago.
Did you know?
1% of the population in the UK has RA – thats more than 400,000 people. It affects more women than men. The most common age for people to develop RA is between 40 and 60 or a bit older for men. People can get RA at any age, even from the age of 14 where it is ‘early onset’ RA. There are other types of inflammatory arthritis, but RA is the most common.
We don’t know what causes RA itself. What we do know is that there are two elements involved: Genetics and Environmental factors.
Genetics are involved even if you don’t have anyone in your family with RA.
An environmental trigger can be a virus, infection or trauma of some kind. Or a very stressful episode in your life.
Diagnosing RA can be tricky.
Firstly most people aren’t aware of RA so they put it down to some other cause when they do get symptoms.
Secondly when someone goes to their GP with a painful joint, it could have many causes. They’re not specialists and there is no single test they can do to find out whether it is RA or not.
What is it?
As this is a very long name we shorten it to JIA.
What does it mean?
JUVENILE: Child was 16 or under when the problem started.
IDIOPATHIC: Of unknown Cause
ARTHRITIS: Simply means there is inflammation inside the joint and we can see this by the swelling warmth and reduced movement in your childs joints.
There are seven different types of JIA and you can find the information here.
- Speak to someone else with RA
IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS THAT COULD BE RA TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR. IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET A REFERRAL TO A RHEUMATOLOGIST AT AN EARLY STAGE. THE SOONER RA IS DIAGNOSED, THE SOONER TREATMENT STARTS, THEN THE BETTER THE LONG-!TERM OUTCOMES ARE LIKELY TO BE.