The paradox of Rheumatoid Arthritis progression
The term rheumatoid arthritis progression requires some explanation. Progress is the opposite of what we observe when rheumatoid disease evolves. It is the disease that progresses, not the patient. So the advancement of the disease actually leads to the worsening of the patient’s health.
The other obvious problem with the term rheumatoid arthritis progression is that it uses the popular but inaccurate phrase “rheumatoid arthritis.” This makes it sound like the disease is a type of arthritis, when arthritis is actually only one symptom of rheumatoid disease (RD).
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis progression?
Vocabulary aside, what is rheumatoid arthritis progression?
Rheumatoid arthritis progression describes ways that the disease develops and evolves in a particular person with rheumatoid disease (PRD). RD may progress gradually or suddenly in an individual PRD. Or it may do both things at different times in his or her life. Disease activity may be obvious or subtle. Disease progression includes both musculoskeletal related problems and other systemic disease involvement, such as cardiovascular, lung, eye, or skin issues stemming from the RD.
Searching for answers on Rheumatoid Arthritis progression
People who are new to RD or who care about a loved one with RD usually ask: What is going to happen next? How disabled could I be? How long does that take? What about remission?
I searched too. As I read books from the library and research articles online, I remember learning about common patterns in disease progression. But over the years, I’ve mostly learned from you – from actual people with rheumatoid disease (PRD).
And I have become confident that RD is a very diverse disease with many distinct patterns.
And, the progression of RD is not only different between PRD, it is also likely different in the same person over time.
My example of Rheumatoid Arthritis progression
The example image on this page shows my own disease progression so far. For many years, I lived with a flaring disease pattern, being absolutely fine in between times. Although I was not diagnosed during that time, the symptoms were identical to those at diagnosis.
I was diagnosed after the disease spread to every joint over several months. After diagnosis, I have not experienced any flaring and remitting patterns, only constant disease activity, with changes in which joints are worse. However, the disease has very noticeably evolved over the past 11 years so I tried to include that.
All of my systemic disease issues have been addressed by non-rheumatologists, but I’ve only included those that are definitely RD related. Since I have not responded to treatments other than steroids, my graph does not show a sharp drop in disease activity that other graphs might show.
A Rheumatoid Arthritis progression tool for you
The image on this page is an example of a tool you can print to illustrate your own disease progression. You may freely print as many copies as you need. Click here to download the tool and read all of the instructions and helpful tips to use the tool.
HOW HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS PROGRESSION?
WAS IT DIFFERENT THAN YOU EXPECTED?
Click HERE for the free Rheumatoid Arthritis progression printable tool. Stay tuned for the next free tool.
- Saying Rheumatoid Disease, Not Arthritis: It’s Not Just Me
- 10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago About Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Courses of Rheumatoid Arthritis