Rheumatoid Awareness Day Is February 2

On February 2, 2024, the voices of many people who have rheumatoid disease will be heard. Rheumatoid disease, also known as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is an autoimmune condition in which the body believes the linings of the joints are foreign tissue, and so attacks and damages them, resulting in inflammation and pain.

About 1 percent of the American population lives with this condition, according to research. But of those 1.3 million people, two to three times as many women as men develop RA, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, 70 percent of people with RA are women, according to the World Health Organization.

The day was created in 2013 by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF) to help raise awareness for all the people who function daily with both pain and misconceptions about this chronic disease. Research has shown that a lack of public education and awareness can mean people wait too long to seek medical advice, which can result in inadequate treatment.

Busting Myths About Rheumatoid Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

“I think the biggest myth about rheumatoid arthritis is that it is a type of arthritis, and not an immune system disease,” says Kelly O’Neill, the president of the RPF and author of Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. “It has more in common with multiple sclerosis and lupus. It’s not that similar to osteoarthritis.” According to the National Institutes of Health, autoimmune diseases may never go away, can be debilitating, and negatively impact quality of life.

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