to dismiss rheumatoid arthritis as an almost-inevitable part of ageing. But the
fact is, rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, isn’t connected to ageing, and is an
often very misunderstood condition.
message from the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society which is highlighting
the many myths surrounding the disease, which, contrary to popular belief,
doesn’t just affect the joints.
As the NRAS
points out, RA is a systemic condition which can affect the body all over.
Although joint pain is the most common symptom, it can also affect organs –
including the eyes – as well as the nerves, blood vessels and muscles and cause
widespread problems such as fatigue and flu-like symptoms. Other issues can also
develop due to RA – like vasculitis, which occurs when blood vessels become
the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society is looking to dispel the myths that
surround rheumatoid arthritis, a hidden condition that is quite misunderstood,”
says Stuart Munday, director of marketing at the NRAS.
So what are
some of those myths? Here are five things about rheumatoid arthritis everyone
needs to stop believing…
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints
common type of arthritis – osteoarthritis – is caused by joint wear and tear
and is associated with ageing. But RA is different and occurs when the immune
system attacks the lining of the joints, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
“RA is an
autoimmune condition that’s a result of the immune system responding
inappropriately,” explains Munday. “The immune system doesn’t know when to stop
doing its job so mistakenly attacks the synovial membrane around the joints,
causing pain and swelling, and can also affect other organs.”
older people get rheumatoid arthritis
it’s got a different name, children can get a form of inflammatory arthritis
similar to rheumatoid arthritis, known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
During adulthood, RA can potentially affect people of all ages.
says: “The most common age for people to develop RA is between 40 and 60, or a
bit older for men. People can get it at any age and there are other forms of
inflammatory arthritis, but RA is the most common.”
arthritis is more common in men
true. In fact, it’s believed RA impacts roughly two to three times more women
than men, says Munday.
humans get rheumatoid arthritis
cats and dogs can get a form of arthritis called immune-mediated polyarthritis
(IMPA). Munday says: “Studies have shown that certain animals can be affected
by immune-mediated polyarthritis (IMPA). RA is a form of IMPA in people.”
doesn’t affect it
damage health in many different ways, and one of them is by increasing the risk
of RA. “Smoking can potentially double the chances of developing RA,” stresses
Munday. “Once diagnosed, if someone continues to smoke, it can reduce the
effectiveness of medication by up to 50%, leading to increased joint pain and