7 Tough Challenges Facing People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Morning Stiffness Is the First Hurdle Each Day

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Morning stiffness is one of the primary characteristics associated with rheumatoid arthritis.  Imagine waking up each day with joint pain, joint stiffness, and muscle pain which typically lasts an hour or more. The pain and stiffness can be intense. Your whole body may ache. Going back to bed seems like the answer, but you can't because you have responsibilities.

It's disheartening for a couple of reasons. You wake up feeling worse than when you went to bed. You became more symptomatic while resting and sleeping. Seems wrong, doesn't it? Knowing that morning stiffness awaits you each day is a challenge. 

A Flare of Symptoms Can Be Disruptive

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An arthritis flare is an increase in symptoms beyond what is considered your usual level. Sometimes a flare develops after you knowingly overdo activities, but often it is unexplainable. Characteristically, there is an increase in joint pain, joint stiffness, swelling, and fatigue. It can be intrusive because of its unpredictability. You may find yourself in bed on a day when you had other plans. Also, you can't predict how long a flare will last.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications Are a Necessary Evil

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Most people with rheumatoid arthritis are treated with a combination of medications. There are 5 main drug classes for arthritis: pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, disease-modfying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologics.

First of all, determining which of the drugs or combination of drugs is most effective can be a challenge. Trial and error is involved. It can be challenging when you suspect that a particular medication is ineffective for you. Knowing when to switch to another drug or stick with the drug you are taking can be tricky. Also, drugs prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis can have unwanted side effects. Plus, we didn't even mention the cost of the drugs.  All told, medications can be a challenge.  

Fatigue Is Like an Unwelcome Guest

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For most people with rheumatoid arthritis, fatigue is as much of a problem as chronic pain. It's a challenge to deal with various aspects of rheumatoid arthritis and still have energy left in reserve. The disease is draining. It's actually not uncommon to feel spent much of the time.

Missing Out Is Disheartening for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

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Pain. Fatigue. Physical Limitations. Disability. Sounds awful. Despite these characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis, there is still a life to live. The disease course associated with rheumatoid arthritis is not even. There are ups and downs.  At times, life will need to be put on hold as you deal with your disease. Occasionally, you may miss out on birthday parties, graduations, weddings, and funerals. You may watch your family go off without you on some days. It is a challenge to accept that sometimes you must miss out.

Needing Help and Hating to Ask

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We all love our independence. We like to do things ourselves, without needing any help. It boosts our self-esteem. But, in the real world, people who live with rheumatoid arthritis sometimes need help. There may be a wide range of help needed -- from simple tasks to more complicated matters. Some people find it extremely difficult to ask for help, especially if they were the one helping others in the past. The role reversal can be challenging.  

It's a Challenge to Not Give Up!

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It's understandable that on particularly bad days, some people with rheumatoid arthritis feel like giving up. Chronic pain and disability can strip joy from your life. People who feel a sense of hopelessness tend to be those who do not yet have the disease under control. If you feel your condition is not well-managed, talk to your doctor. It's important to realize that managing rheumatoid arthritis is a daily battle and a lifetime challenge. Shed any thoughts you may have of giving up. Simply put, it's not an option.

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