Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can come out of the blue or be diagnosed years after it’s first suspected.
Either way, when you or a loved one is diagnosed, it can be confusing and overwhelming to realize how much there is to learn about the disease and its treatments.
Here, people living with RA share what they learned soon after diagnosis.
1. You’re Not Too Young to Have RA
That’s what Shelley Fritz, 46, of Tampa, Florida, learned when she found out she had rheumatoid arthritis at age 43. Her initial reaction that she was too young to get RA is typical, says rheumatologist Rebecca Manno, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
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Many people think of RA as an older person’s disease, perhaps confusing it with osteoarthritis. The reality is that it can strike much younger, even in young children and teens. Juvenile arthritis, the most common type of arthritis in kids under age 17, occurs in about 50,000 kids in America. In women, RA is most commonly – but not always – diagnosed between ages 30 and 60.