Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)
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How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect People's Lives?
Rheumatoid arthritis affects people differently. For some people, it lasts only a few months or a year or two and goes away without causing any noticeable damage. Other people have mild or moderate forms of the disease, with periods of worsening symptoms, called flares, and periods in which they feel better, called remissions. Still others have a severe form of the disease that is active most of the time, lasts for many years or a lifetime, and leads to serious joint damage and disability.
Although rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a disease of the joints, its effects are not just physical. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis also experience issues related to:
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect virtually every area of a person's life from work life to family life. One study showed that more than a quarter of women stopped working within 4 years after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis can also interfere with the joys and responsibilities of family life and may affect the decision to have children.
Fortunately, current treatment strategies, including pain-relieving drugs and medications that slow joint damage, a balance between rest and exercise, and patient education and support programs, allow most people with the disease to lead active and productive lives. In recent years, research has led to a new understanding of rheumatoid arthritis and has increased the likelihood that, in time, researchers will find even better ways to treat the disease.