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Bone and Joint Wellness

A Patient’s Perspective on Adjusting to Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis

In my mid-twenties I started to experience pain in my hands and feet. It was sharp and burning, and it impacted what I could do in a day.

I was working as an esthetician, so I was told it was just carpal tunnel and that I should wear a wrist brace at night. However, when I did, I felt great discomfort. My body began to feel like it was being overwhelmed with other mysterious progressive symptoms that didn’t match up with carpal tunnel.

After I gave birth to my son in 2015, when I was 26, my symptoms seemed to explode. I was constantly catching colds that never seemed to want to go away and was bedridden with crippling fatigue. My emotions were running rampant, and  I had never-ending pain and even gastrointestinal issues. 

These symptoms became so debilitating, I got to thinking that, given my family’s history with arthritis, it would be wise to request a rheumatoid arthritis blood test from my doctor. 

When it came back positive, I was shocked I could get arthritis so young and at just how serious the condition really is. Because of how debilitating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be, I knew I had to make a plan of action on how I was going to combat life with RA. 

By empowering myself with research and education, I adapted the three Ps necessary to progress forward. 

1. Pharmacological

My journey with medication was a long one with many side effects, until I found a biologic that helps keep my disease activity under control and carries few drawbacks. I quickly learned leaving my disease untreated can have severe consequences and be too debilitating to function. 

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2. Physiological

Learning to exercise and adopting a regular routine to keep my body moving has had one of the biggest impacts on my overall health, not just life with RA. Motion really is lotion for your joints. 

3. Psychological 

RA is so much more than just joint pain. Reaching out for help with my emotions after my diagnosis helped me reach acceptance and understand what I was going through, I definitely wasn’t alone. 

Remember, RA is a process, not an event.

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