Saying Rheumatoid Disease, Not Arthritis: It’s Not Just Me

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Murphy craniocervical article Rheumatoid DiseaseTwenty months ago, I explained why I’d become convinced that the “name” of Rheumatoid Arthritis must be changed. The more I’ve learned over the past few years, the more I could not deny that fact.

Soon after that, I decided to write a little e-book examining the ways Rheumatoid Disease affects the body outside of the musculoskeletal system – maybe about 35 pages. But I wanted to get all the facts just right, so I researched and documented each topic. We can talk much more about the upcoming full-length book soon, but I’ll tell you right now what stunned me – how much I learned about things I already knew.

MedicineNet RD descriptionLet me say it more clearly: I was more correct than I’d ever imagined.

The historical term Rheumatoid Disease is still in use today and you don’t need to worry about being an oddball for using it. I can promise you this: the deeper you dig, the more obvious it will be to you that calling a serious disease “a type of arthritis” is the silly thing.

It will be more and more obvious that-

1) Rheumatoid Disease (RD) is not a type of arthritis (arthritis is one symptom of RD).
2) There is no benefit to people living with Rheumatoid Disease (PRD) to saying that it is (a type of arthritis).
3) The problems associated with poor care for RD are related to the underestimating of the disease as a type of arthritis.

You might also like to read:

Bhatia rheumatoid disease heart

I picked up this ball and ran with it – I didn’t invent the ball

Some have criticized me for coining the terms Rheumatoid Disease and rheumatoid heart disease, but I can’t really take credit for them. I’ve just read lots of medical history in the past few years. The historical, and medically correct, term “Rheumatoid Disease” and its abbreviation “RD” are used today by clinicians and researchers, especially outside of rheumatology. If you were a pulmonologist studying the effect of RD on the lungs, you would feel silly talking about “arthritis” because you know there are no joints in the lungs. The same goes for eyes, heart, or vocal cords.

(Below, 2 examples, emphases added).

“‘We call it rheumatoid arthritis, but we should really call it rheumatoid disease,’ notes Elinor Mody, MD, director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Women’s Orthopedic and Joint Disease center in Boston. Rheumatoid Arthritis can damage the whole body. Besides the joints, the ‘heart and lungs are the most commonly affected,’ says Dr. Mody. Doctors aren’t sure how or why rheumatoid disease causes other organs to suffer. ‘We don’t know the whole story,’ Mody says.”[1]


Rheumatoid disease (RD) is a common chronic inflammatory condition associated with progressive joint destruction. Sufferers of RD experience reduced life expectancy, reflected in the increased standardised mortality rates reported in several studies over the last 50 years. Most studies indicate that the increased mortality affecting this population is mainly due to cardio-vascular disease… constitute a rheumatoid heart disease, these features are relatively benign. The current prevalence of rheumatoid heart disease in the era of early administration of disease-modifying therapy requires evaluation.”[2]

Be right, and set a trend

Everyday Health - RD exampleIf you understand the reasoning behind using the term RD, go ahead and use it. You’re not alone, and you’re not wrong; you’re a trendsetter. There is more to come soon with the book, and some other opportunities to make a difference. If you’re unsure now, the book will likely convince you, and make you an advocate for RD. But if you agree, don’t wait to say RD out loud to your family, your doctors, your patients, or on social media.

To some degree, RAW must continue to use “Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)” for a period of time alongside of RD in order to educate the new readers who find this site every day. By using both terms together, RAW is also educating the search engines (Google, etc.) that the new term, RD, can be used to mean what it knows as RA.

Starting a trend?

MedicineNet RD publication date

Yes, I finally finished this book! Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease

Recommended reading


1 Bhatia GS, Sosin MD, Grindulis KA, Davis RC, Lip GYH. Rheumatoid disease and the heart: from epidemiology to echocardiography. Expert Opin Ivestig Drugs. 2005 Jan [cited 2013 Sep 3];14(1): 65-76. doi:10.1517/13543784.14.1.65 Abstract available from:

2 Brichford C. How rheumatoid arthritis affects the lungs. Everyday Health [website]. 2013 Jul 8 [cited 2013 Sep 3]. Available from:

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 at 4:44 am and is filed under RA Research, Resources, and Rheumatology. 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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