Courses of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Are there distinct courses of Rheumatoid Arthritis for RA patients?

We talk so often of what we have in common. Let’s think about our differences for a moment. One of my very first blog posts was about the four courses of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s like a fact of life with RA: we are not all the same. But, how are we different? Can we be put into groups?

When I was newly diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I didn’t know anyone else with the disease. My joints had no one to compare themselves with, so they went rogue. At least my doctors thought so.

Poking around the internet, I found people like myself – well, their joints were like mine anyway. You know how good it feels to find you aren’t alone. However, I also noticed patients whose RA was not like mine. Maybe they had nodules on their hands. Maybe they could still swing a tennis racquet.

I looked up my observations in some books and articles, and the consensus was three or four different courses of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Since then I’ve sometimes wondered whether there might be even more than four courses. Courses of Rheumatoid Arthritis are not actually determined by some objective evaluation anyway. They are estimated by observing symptoms over time. Just a few examples.

  • There are RA patients whose damage occurs slowly and RA patients whose damage is immediate.
  • There are RA patients with obvious swelling without extreme disability; there are RA patients with less conspicuous swelling who are disabled swiftly.
  • There are RA patients who have brutal damage in one joint at a time, requiring surgeries; there are other RA patients who suffer gradual erosions all over the body.
  • There are RA patients with lots of extra-articular symptoms; there are RA patients with few.
  • There are RA patients whose symptoms flare and remit; there are RA patients who improve for years at a time; there are RA patients who are always in full flare.

Isn’t it funny to compare courses of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

I’m sorry, but that list reminds me of “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home…” At least with that, there are five piggies. Maybe it’s that pulling sensation in my twisting toes that keeps distracting me.

No one knows why some Rheumatoid Arthritis patients have joints smart enough to read the textbooks. I’ve not found many. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had RA cheery enough to read the RA article in Woman’s Day?

Have you ever found another RA’er who is just like you? Do you sometimes feel like explaining your RA so others will know? Do you feel anyone understands what your RA is like?

Coming soon: Let’s get a closer look at what the research is showing about the courses of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 at 7:01 am and is filed under RA Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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