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Tin Man Syndrome

Tin Man Syndrome.

When I think about my RD, and how the minute I’m off my meds I freeze up like the tin man does when he doesn’t get oiled, or how when its cold my joints hurt even more, well like the tin man when he is out in the rain or humidity or cold he rusts up, locks up, and can’t move. Sorta like us people that suffer from this terrible disease.

Talking to my very patient and understanding boyfriend one morning, more like joking cause I bent down to put my puppies food dish down and about fell over trying to straighten my body back up, I tried to explain about how I was feeling and then it came to me, I told him “it’s like the tin man from wizard of oz! you know how he would rust up and lock up? thats how this goes, it makes me feel like the tin man”.

So having had tried to explain RD to so many people and I get the “oh you have arthritis” looks, and the list of otc meds and teas and acupuncture and advice I get from people that do not understand what RD is, or the blank looks after explaining the medical definitions of what RD is.
I decided to explain it using the tin man syndrome analogy.

Believe it or not, people get that and go “oh wow”!

Makes me wonder that when the tin man was created, if he was designed after the concepts of joint stiffness, seeing that, that’s where he freezes up every time. Did the creator have some form of RD? Either way, it is definitely a great way to explain RD.

Our oil can is medication, that helps our pain and stiffness but has other side effects, so either way we can’t win. Unlike the Tin man, he got his oil and was just fine. Wish it was that simple for us.

So the next time someone asks you what you have tell them you have Tin Man Syndrome.
Maybe for Halloween I should dress up as the tin man with the Letters “RA” on the chest, I’m sure no one will get it, only the people who actually have this awful disease.
So Stay out of the rain, and keep your oil can close by.

Sandy Johnson

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Darla
    4 years ago

    Enjoyed your article. Describes me this week with the heat & humidity. Wish
    we had a magic oil. Will use this to explain my stiffness.

  • Gina
    4 years ago

    This story made me giggle. Not because of the seriousness of the disease but because I have just been diagnosed with RA recently, and reminded my sister of when she used to do this little skit mimicking the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz movie. I told her I could be the Tin Man now. Lol. That was just a few days ago and then I joined and just read this story. So funny how I am really not so alone in my thinking or my disease. Thank you for sharing.

  • bkc1063
    4 years ago

    I love your analogy of RA. I, too suffer with the Tin Man Syndrome…stiffness all day and my feet are my major complaints! I do have sensitivity to when the weather is going to change and cold. I wish there was something I could do to change this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sandy author
    4 years ago

    Thank you ! I wish i had a magic oil can too
    Thank you for the kind words!

  • Andrew Lumpe, PhD moderator
    4 years ago

    Great analogy Sandy! Thanks for sharing. Wish I had a magic oil can to unfreeze those joints. 🙂

  • Jenn Lebowitz
    4 years ago

    Hi Sandy Johnson,

    Thanks so much for sharing your analogy with us! It’s very much appreciated!!!

    While I’m not sure if the creators of the Wizard of Oz had rheumatoid arthritis, you bring up an interesting question! I thought you might also find this article interesting and/or inspiring:

    Wishing you our best! Thanks again for sharing your creative idea!


    Jenn (Community Manager,

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