Good News for Us and a Reader’s Take on the Newspaper | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Good News for Us and a Reader’s Take on the Newspaper

coffee truckWe’re so fortunate to have readers who make such amazing contributions. That’s what makes us more of a community than just a website. Isn’t it great the amount of information and encouragement readers provide each other – and me – even by commenting?!

This week we reached an extraordinary milestone on our Facebook page. Our membership there reached 10,000. I realize that a large percentage of our readers aren’t on Facebook, but I hope they won’t mind our celebrating!

Today, I want to share a story sent in by Canadian reader MomB about a newspaper article on Rheumatoid Arthritis that got her going. Thanks, MomB.

A readers’ take on Rheumatoid Arthritis in the newspaper

By MomB

I’ve read with interest the stories of the newly diagnosed; they reflect my own story in so many ways. We are all in the same boat.

It was interesting to find an RA item in our local newspaper. It scared me, made me mad, and made me feel sorry for the people that can’t get treatment. It also gave a tiny little bit of hope that some focus might be given to RA. I actually made me want to give this guy a hug at one moment.

Worried me: The University and the pharmaceutical company working together.

Made me mad: “Yet there are only 350 rheumatologists in Canada to serve the aging population.”   I am mad because this (once again!) implies that RA is an old person’s disease.

Made me feel sorry: There are only 350 rheumatologists in the whole country, a population of almost 34 million people.  Let’s we do the math (thought that doesn’t tell the whole story). The article says between 1 and 3 percent are afflicted; we’ll use two to be fair and hope my calculator helps me with the math.

That means 680,000 people are currently diagnosed with RA. Okay, let’s divvy those up between 350 rheumatologists… By my math, that gives them 1943 patients a piece.

Let’s take working days in to account. Take off the weekends and the likely 8 weeks of vacation and the public holidays essentially taking 150 days out of the year. That leaves 215 days that the rheumatologists can deal with patients. Well, not really because there are the seminar days and the days they are teaching; but let’s use that number. That means they see 11 patients per day on a consistent basis.  Unfortunately that is not true because people who live in the northern part of our provinces have NO rheumatologists there.  They have to either travel to another city or accept band-aid solutions from their GPs.

(Note from Kelly: I’m not sure how many times per year RA patients are seen in Canada, but it sounds difficult.)

Here’s a little bit of hope: They are focusing on educating the primary care providers so that they can recognize the symptoms earlier and get people referred for early treatment.

And my need to hug him: “With a very quick screening tool they can pick up early inflammatory arthritis and get those patients the treatment they need rather than saying, ‘Oh it’s just arthritis.’”

Important notes:coffee truck close up

  • Thanks, MomB! Great analysis.
  • If you have a blog – any kind – we’d love to add your voice & link to our upcoming blog carnival about pain relief.
  • Remember to complete the RPF RA Patient Survey, if you haven’t done that yet! And please repost the link if you know anyone else with RA who still needs to do it.

Recommended reading

Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/

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8 thoughts on “Good News for Us and a Reader’s Take on the Newspaper

  • August 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

    This is somewhat misleading because RA patients don’t need to be seen often by a Rheumatologist once treatment has begun. When I was first diagnosed I was seen once a month. With time I am seen less often, usually between 3 and 6 months. I am Canadian.

  • August 4, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I have been struggling for a little over 2 years. It wasn’t until this past fall that I was given a diagnosis for fibromyalgia. In December, I was additionally diagnosed with RA. It has been a long haul and frustrating. Treatment has been slow up until now. Now it is just a waiting game. Wait and see what works. It would be wonderful if primary care physicians were better educated in these areas. I feel like I have lost too much time. Here is a link to my most recent stuggles~

  • August 4, 2011 at 10:21 am


    Re: “That means 680,000 people are currently diagnosed with RA. Okay, let’s divvy those up between 350 rheumatologists… By my math, that gives them 1943 patients a piece.”

    You make a good point. Wouldn’t it make sense for governments to start making an effort to target specific HC needs in our populations? Currently, there is no system in place for doing so in the U.S., other than for example attempting to get more docs to practice in rural locations. Students choose specialties primarily by virtue of personal and professional qualification in conjunction with ultimate financial reward (also considering loan debt is usually huge). This system worked fine in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but is clearly outdated in the 21st century. How can we take a step in the right direction to ensure that chronic HC conditions are met with a proper societal response?


  • August 4, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I live in Hamilton the home of MacMaster and this artical does nothing but make me happy I agree there is a doctor shortage but it is not just rheumatologists its all doctors. I really belive the training of family Doctors is where it starts in most cases they are the ones that hold the Rec form the get us to a rheumatologist. My Doctor trained at Mac and caught my RA from a complant about hip pain. Sure there was alot more involved but I have often thought how luck I am to have a doctor that knows her stuff…

    • August 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      Wow, 350 in Canada? What about the US? No wonder it’s so hard to find a good rheumy!

  • August 5, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Well I am also a canadian and have been fortunate that I see him ever 1-3 months ands hopefully graduate to every six months. My session with hims is he was etching a GP what o look for in her practice I hope she was listening and taking it to hard. I felt fortunate that she had the opportunity to learn the differences in all of of us as I do not have finger and toes damage but have severe/agressive RA and have lost both knees and shoulders. But toes and fingers are fine. I hope the new doc really listened to that statement.

  • August 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I work with an organization, Good Days from Chronic Disease Fund, and it is our mission to help chronic disease patients get the medical care they need, at an affordable price. With the help of gracious donors, we are able to help so many people that are unable to help themselves. Visit our website to learn how to support our cause

    We are on Facebook and twitter too! @CDFund

  • August 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

    While you may think my comments were misleading, please let me refer you back to something that Kelly continually tries to get people to understand. Each RA patient is different. We all require different amounts of care from our rheumatologists depending on the progression of the disease and whether or not we are responding to treatment. In my case, I am not responding well to treatment and have seen my rheumatologist at least 8 times in the last year. Beleive me, I am not complaining about the treatment I am receiving. I live in Hamilton and am fortunate to have been referred to a great rheumatolotist in a timely manner. Others in this province/country have to wait months and months for a referral. Yes, there is an overall shortage of doctors, however my particular interest is in RA treatment providers.


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