what life with RA is really like

What Life With RA Is Really Like: Results from the 2022 RA In America Survey

Last updated: February 2023

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that commonly affects a person’s joints, tissues, organs, and so much more. Although RA affects millions of people, there are still so many myths and misconceptions surrounding life with this condition.

Relationships, employment, and seemingly simple day-to-day tasks are all things that a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis can significantly impact. Using results from our 10th RA In America survey, here is what we learned about what life with RA is really like.

RA can negatively affect employment

For many, having a career is important for supporting themselves and loved ones. But it also can become part of their identity. Maintaining employment with a chronic condition can be difficult. Nearly all people with RA have symptoms on a regular basis, with the most common being fatigue, pain, and inflammation. They may feel misunderstood in the workplace, especially when many of their symptoms are not visible to others.

A suitcase, roadblock, and cardboard box represent the impact of RA on working habits, where 72% of survey respondents have been affected in their career, 61% feel guilt when it comes to not participating in work obligations, and 32% retired early.

RA can be isolating and lonely

Many symptoms linked to RA are apparent to others, but some are not. According to our survey results, many people wish that their loved ones better understood how lonely and isolating RA can sometimes be. More than half of survey respondents with RA report struggling with a mental health issue.

Three stick figures stand in front of a brain representing that 33% of survey respondents say their doctor helps manage the mental impact of RA, while a woman pensively faces to the left to reflect that 57% of people with RA experience anxiety and depression.

Not-so-visible symptoms of RA

There are so many symptoms of RA that may go unnoticed by others. Things like fatigue, brain fog, and difficulty sleeping are just a few of the common issues that people with RA experience. While there is a bit of controversy surrounding the idea that RA can be an invisible illness, there are certain things people with RA deal with that even those closest to them may not be aware of.

A bed with pillows surrounded by Z’s reflects that 94% of survey respondents experience RA-induced fatigue while an arm and leg surrounded by lightning bolts reflects that 86% of survey respondents report joint pain, and swirling nerve endings reflects that 58% deal with nerve problems.

The 10th Rheumatoid Arthritis In America Survey was conducted online from June 2022 through September 2022. The survey was completed by 2,674 people.

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