RETHINK YOUR RA
THE IMPACT OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS (RA) ON CANADIANS
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic, progressive, and often debilitating inflammatory disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints. It can affect people of any age but often begins between the ages of 30 to 50. About 300,000 Canadians live with RA.1,2
A RECENT SURVEY OF 751 CANADIANS LIVING WITH RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS REVEALS:3
RA NEGATIVELY IMPACTS QUALITY OF LIFE
Many patients always or sometimes experience symptoms
3 IN 4 believe it’s possible to feel BETTER than they currently do
MORE DIALOGUE NEEDED BETWEEN RHEUMATOLOGISTS AND PATIENTS
of people believe their rheumatologist understands what they’re going through
1 IN 3
don’t talk to their doctor often about how they’re feeling
sometimes tell their physician they are feeling OK even when they’re not
IT IS POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE REMISSION OR LOW DISEASE ACTIVITY WHEN LIVING WITH RA.
HONEST DIALOGUE WITH YOUR RHEUMATOLOGIST IS AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP.
1. https://arthritis.ca/about-arthritis/arthritis-types-(a-z)/types/rheumatoid-arthritis. Accessed on December 5, 2019.
2. https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis. Accessed on December 5, 2019.
3. A research-based pharmaceutical company commissioned Leger to conduct an online survey of 751 Canadians living with rheumatoid arthritis. They survey was completed between October 24 and November 11, 2019, with a margin of error of +/- 3.6%, 19 times out of 20.
WHAT COULD BETTER LOOK LIKE?
Before visiting your doctor, take some time to think about things you would like to do and achieve without the limitations of RA. These can be day-to-day or more long-term goals, or an activity or state of mind you have missed since you were diagnosed. Try to define specific, actionable goals like "I would like to be able to walk for 5 km", rather than things like "I want to feel less pain".
Focus on these goals in your conversation rather than just the symptoms of RA, so your doctor can be aware of exactly the kind of result you're seeking.
Ask your doctor to tell you about the different types of treatments so you can stay informed on treatment approaches, and which, if any, might be right for you.
RA treatment can help manage your symptoms and may help prevent bone and joint damage.
Remission looks different to everyone, but the simplest explanation is that when your symptoms are under control and you feel better, you may feel like most of your symptoms have gone away. At this point, joint degeneration associated with your condition may also slow down, which contributes to the overall health of your joints.
You probably recognize that your doctor can assess the progression of your RA with clinical methods like blood tests, and by assessing your day-to-day function, pain, and other symptoms specific to you.
Track your daily RA symptoms and their impact over a period of time so you can discuss your findings with your doctor. This approach may prove more effective than just discussing the symptoms you have on the day of your visit.
Measure symptoms with metrics (severity, frequency of flares) and identify your affected activities with concrete examples (e.g., missing work, not being able to play with children or grandchildren). Also, note how you are feeling emotionally (e.g., concerned, insecure, frustrated).
Speaking openly and honestly about your experiences with RA will help your physician to form a comprehensive picture of your disease and help you get closer to achieving your goals. If you speak up about discomfort or issues you are currently facing, your doctor can think about options and strategies that will help you work towards these goals.
It's at least worth a conversation!
IF I DO NOTHING
One thing's for sure: improvement rarely happens if you don't speak up. Your voice, and yours alone, can be a powerful force in finding a better way to address your treatment goals.
Don't assume your doctor knows exactly how you are feeling. You know your situation and symptoms best, so just be candid with your doctor and they'll better understand what you are experiencing.
You have the power to effect change in your life by talking about your experiences, your aspirations, and your options. All you have to do is start the conversation.