RA: Not Just Joints or Bones But So Much More

RA: Not Just Joints or Bones But So Much More

The Rheumatoid Arthritis In America 2017 online survey gathered insights from over 3,000 individuals currently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

For most people RA means stiff, painful joints in different parts of their body.

Body parts impacted by RA

While joint pain is a dominating symptom, people living with RA also have to manage several other symptoms, as our community members have told us time and again. On an average, 10.7 symptoms are experienced by those living with RA.

RA symptoms experienced apart from pain

And there’s not just the RA symptoms that those living with this chronic condition have to deal with and manage, there’s also the comorbidities.

RA comorbidities

Those living with a chronic condition are also no stranger to the impact it has on their mental health. RAIA 2017 data shows us that of all the respondents (who live with RA) about 25% of them also live with mood disorders like depression. So many of our contributors and other community members have also documented how RA impacts their mental health and the link between chronic conditions and depression, is a well-researched topic.

RA impacts mental health apart from physical health too

Adding to RA’s impact on mental health is the fact that those living with RA also have to compromise on their quality of life. Living with a chronic condition such as RA, means giving up on a lot of things these people see as pertinent to their identity and sense of self.

RA has an impact of one's Quality of Life

These findings provide us a glimpse of the physical, emotional, and mental burden those living with a chronic condition like RA have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, and the perseverance and determination that these individuals possess.


View Comments (20)
  • Valerie R Kyle
    4 months ago

    Hi everyone. My first comment ever. I’ve had RA for 40 yrs and have experienced the evolution of treatment. It is amazing! I am on 4 different medications. No pain meds. I do take a med first depression and pain. Yes my career was cut short as a nurse after 35 yrs of fulfillment. I have just learned that RA is in my lungs and my vocal cord joints. I was taken aback with this diagnosis after my first battle with pneumonia in April. I also have had cataracts removed and bilateral knee replacements. I also now have Guillian Barre. Was paralyzed and had to learn to stand and walk again. Dr did not think I could do it. I proved him wrong and worked 2 more yrs. Once methyltrex stuned my bone marrow I had to quit everything. Life is still wonderful and my husband does everything!! .

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    4 months ago

    @ValerieRKyle First off, thanks for reading! As a nurse I’m sure you’ve seen your share of pateints in pain. Itr’s different when it comes to you, though, isn’t it? I get it, you’re not alone. It’s great to have a supportive partner, too. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Piper888
    5 months ago

    I just was diagnosed with RA. I also have depression. Will my depression get worse be at Of the RA?

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    5 months ago

    @piper888 RA itself doesn’t make despression worse or better, but the feelings you might have because of RA could certainly be taxing. My doctor was once looking into prescribing SSRIs for me due to pain, because there is a link between pain and depression. It’s something you should keep an eye on for sure, but there isn’t a direct medical link, no. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • jenetha
    9 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this article
    It captured what I experience on a daily basis and sometimes family and friends don’t really understand only because you look good

  • obhands
    10 months ago

    This was the most concise and validating article I’ve seen yet. I sent it to my loved ones.

  • MaryB
    11 months ago

    Thank you so much for this article. These are all things that I’m having trouble with and will take to my doctor for his opinion. I started with a kidney problem, went to Crohn’s now on to strokes, heart and osteo, inflammatory Crohn’s arthritis and RA. Keeps getting better and better. At least things are different.

  • Alice
    1 year ago

    RA has so many friends that I’m learning about. It seems once you develope one autoimmune it just keeps growing. Sjögren came along next for me then Reynard and I have had Hyperthyroidism for years. Does anyone else find this to be true?

  • AmyLynn73
    1 year ago

    Hello, I’m new to the group & I’m kind of at a loss. I was diagnosed almost a year ago & I have tried several medications & an currently on a remicaide infusion but even that doesn’t seem to bring relief. Is RA this aggressive with everyone? It’s not just swollen joints, it’s horrible, terrible, tendon flares that are far worse than the joint pain. I have nothing & no one to compare too so I’m begging for some feedback. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

  • KiwiLawGirl
    1 year ago

    Same here, AmyLynn. I started Remicade in January and have been in terrible pain.

  • suann
    1 year ago

    I think as the ra progresses we all suffer the same fate.As a young child I suffered from ra with many other illness to go with it..At age 42 I was on ssdi…I never thought my life could be turned upside down as it is….Remicide may not be strong enough for you..Not to worry we do have many opition to treat..I can tell you it is very important to keep communications open with your rummy and family doctor..if they don’t listen then look for another..You might want to look into a pain clinic, the doctor there can treat the pain better than your rummy or family doctor..If u need support for pain come on over to the chronic pain team, we all help each other through the good times and bad….Take care of yourself

  • Richard Faust moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for writing 14h3wa0 and for the positive attitude. You are right that there certainly are more options now than ever. My wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here), was diagnosed at two years old and has had RA for almost 40 years. She has seen treatments change dramatically. She wrote about the evolution to the more effective treatments of today here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/the-evolution-of-ra-treatments/. Also want to stress that you are absolutely correct that everyone is stronger when helping each other through. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Richard Faust moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi AmyLynn73. First, let me echo Kelly’s thoughts. Sorry to hear about the diagnosis, but glad you are aggressibely seeking information, support, and treatment. On top of the information she provided, thought you might be interested in these articles looking at the connective tissues and RA:



    In addition, as Kelly mentioned, if you feel your RA is not being controlled or have new symptoms, let your doctor know. In this article one of our contributors writes about how his doctor was not willing to settle for him continuing to have the occasional flare: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/the-good-doctor/. Of course, everyone’s RA is different and what may end up being a person’s level of control is different, but it is in your interest to keep pursuing answers if you are struggling. Wishing you the best. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi there AmyLynn73, Welcome, so glad that you’ve found our community and I hope that we can be a source of information, community and support. RA stages and progression can vary greatly from person to person. Sorry to hear that you are experiencing these symptoms and that your treatment plan hasn’t brought the relief you’d hoped. In addition to speaking with your doctor about next steps, this article on RA stages and Progression may be helpful to you: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/what-is-ra/stages-and-progression/. Anytime you have any new, changing or concerning symptoms, speak with your doctor right away. Wishing you some relief very soon. We appreciate you sharing and being part of our community. Please reach out anytime. Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • gma13
    1 year ago

    I am new to this site. Have RA for 1.5 years. Wow..it is amazing to see so many out there feel as I do. I have felt so alone in this crusade. I now know what is typical for this illness. This RA is also BS…not fun…but you have to learn to bite your upper lip and deal with it the best you know how to. I also have Type 2 diabetes…which complicates issue. Does anyone out there have the same problem and how do you handle it? Thank you…and God Bless You All!

  • TinaRodriquez
    1 year ago

    Hi There,
    I’m also new to this site. My RA doc provided me you information. I was diagnosed with RA since 2004. My bloodwork showed I had the disease but I did not have any symptoms until 2008 when I was part time caregiver for my mother that was suffering with Alzheimer’s. I was under so much stress and that’s when all the symptoms attacked me and the flare-ups were horrible. My doc started me on the methotraxate. This med helped for many years until about 2 years ago. I was constantly in pain and he kept increasing the med. He then sold his practice and needless to say, I was so traumitized cause I had been with this doc for so many years. Long story short, the meds were no longer working (due to all the stress of what was I going to do now) and all this time trying to find a new doc. I finally found a new RA and she started me on daily 5mg of prednisone and continued with metrhotraxte.
    My inflammation makers were so high that she recommended I also begin getting infusions which terrified me. I finally gave in and after 3 infusions the inflammation markers have still not come down. My quality of life has improved (pain has decreased tremendously) but I am so concerned with continuous use of daily prednisone. I’ve been on the prednisone for 12 weeks now. I’ve completed my loading dose of the infusion and this month I’ll begin with a monthlly dose going forward. She assured me that it will take 4 to 6 months to find out if the infusions will work before I can start getting off the prednisone and possibly the methotraxate. But that I need to give it some time. Has anybody out there been in this situation.
    And by the way, I am so glad I found this site. I’ve felt so lonely (even though I have my husband and children) because I feel like nobody understands the pain we go though. Physical, emotional, and mental. So thank you for listening and any comments are appreciated. God Bless!

  • MaryB
    11 months ago

    Hi Tina,
    Only thing I can add is I’ve found that the stress really hurts and adds to the problem. Had to find out the hard way with Crohn’s but am using the info to deal with RA. Hoping you can get some relief someway by knowing you are NOT alone. Will send prayers for you. Take care.

  • Bonapartess
    1 year ago

    We are all in the same boat! 🙂

  • Indigo2
    1 year ago

    Thank you for this article.
    I have just received a diagnosis of RA on 2/14

  • Richard Faust moderator
    1 year ago

    So sorry to hear about the diagnosis gma13, but glad you have come to a place you can get information and support. I realize that you are not brand new to RA, but thought you might find this series one of our contributors did on things she would tell her newly diagnosed self. Here is the number one on the diagnosis: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/no-1-its-just-a-diagnosis/.

    Concerning the comorbidity with Type 2 diabetes, I know I previously mentioned our sister site for the condition – hopefully any community members with similar experiences can chime in with information.

    Your attitude of perseverance will take you far in dealing with RA. In this article one of our contributors write about building confidence to deal with RA. A key, as you have already learned, is getting to know RA, so you can better manage it: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/building-confidence-to-deal-with-ra/.

    Know you are always welcome here and thanks for being a member of the community. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

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