In a new national survey of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients conducted by Health Union, researchers found a severe impact on quality of life, employment, and ability to afford treatment. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that attacks the body, resulting in joint inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling. It may also cause harm to other organs. About 1.3 million Americans or about one percent of the global population have RA.
The results of the survey were that ninety-four percent of respondents with RA said they cannot do as much as they were able before acquiring the disease. Additionally, 67% said others do not understand the severity of their symptoms. The top life-altering symptoms include pain, fatigue, and physical limitations.
“Many people do not know rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive, autoimmune disease and not the result of aging and wear on the body, like osteoarthritis the most common form of arthritis,” said Andrew Lumpe, PhD, a patient with RA and a regular contributor to RheumatoidArthritis.net. “Treatment can help slow the damage, but rheumatoid arthritis frequently alters the lives of both patients and their families.”
Only 37 percent of survey respondents reported they are working full time. Seventy-eight percent of RA patients working full time said their work has been affected by the illness, with the top concerns being:
pain (84%), and
physical limitations (50%).