What is RA?

People often confuse Osteoarthritis with Rheumatoid Arthritis. That's when you get the comments, "But you're so young to have arthritis. Isn't that for old people?" 

Let’s set the record straight. Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis.

According to Mayo Clinic, Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Often called the wear-and-tear arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time (with age/Old People).

VS. 

Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a form of inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease. For reasons no one fully understands, in rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system – which is designed to protect our health by attacking foreign cells such as viruses and bacteria – instead attacks the body’s own tissues, specifically the synovium, a thin membrane that lines the joints. As a result of the attack, fluid builds up in the joints, causing pain in the joints and inflammation that’s systemic – meaning it can occur throughout the body. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, meaning it can’t be cured. Most people with RA experience intermittent bouts of intense disease activity, called flares.  In some people the disease is continuously active and gets worse over time. Others enjoy long periods of remission  – no disease activity or symptoms at all. Evidence shows that early diagnosis and aggressive treatment to put the disease into remission is the best means of avoiding joint destruction, organ damage and disability.

I was diagnosed with RA at 26 after I noticed my right knee becoming swollen as time went on. The swelling got so bad that it was the size of a grapefruit. After various knee draining and the swelling wouldn’t go away, my rheumatologist prescribed me methotrexate and folic acid. It got most of the swelling down but she wanted to target the RA powerfully so she put me on Humira, and I can safely say that the swelling is completely gone. Unfortunately, there has been damage to my knee but now there’s no swelling.

I have been fatigued, nauseous, lost my appetite and depressed with RA like many other patients (but note that everyone with RA experiences different symptoms and reactions to medication and the disease)-but knowing that there are people who fight tougher issues, helps me get out of my funk and strive for positivity. I love saying that I’m Stronger than RA, because I know I am! And so are YOU!

Aimee Espinoza