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RA life span

  • By Tamara Lowrimore

    Does RA shorten your lifespan? I have it severe, my hand is turned outward. My toes are turned outward on both feet. It is getting harder to walk or stand very long. I’m getting worried I’m gonna end up in a wheelchair. I am only 53 but it started about 6 years ago but I only was diagnosed about 2 years ago. I didn’t know what was going on. Finally went to the doctor. I take methotrexate, but a low dose because it elevates my liver real bad. I take humira shots every other week. I wonder if surgery is a possibility to help my feet. I don’t have no strength in my ankles or my wrist. I really am afraid, I’m afraid I’m gonna end up in a wheelchair. I live with terrible pain everyday pretty much.

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  • By Andrew Lumpe, PhD Moderator

    Tamara, I’m so sorry you’re having so many issues. It sounds like your joints are really being impacted. It might be time to talk to your doctor about changing treatments. There are many surgical options. Your rheumy can get images of your joints and refer you to orthopedic surgeons. Hopefully you can find some good treatment options that will improve your quality of life. Andrew

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  • By Susanf

    Tamara, it certainly sounds as if you’re going through a very difficult time and I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing so much deformity and pain. I’ve had RA for about 30 years, diagnosed 27 years ago. I know I’ve been lucky to see a rheumatologist for 26 years who has aggressively attempted to manage my symptoms. She he told me that after my initial assessment she thought I’d be in a wheelchair due to severely limited mobility within six months. I was so incredibly fortunate that her aggressive interventions have allowed me to work for years and raise four children, seeing them through college. On our second appointment when I asked her what our plan would be she said to keep me mobile and out of the wheelchair at least until my children have graduated from college. She manage that and then some I was able to work as a psychiatric social worker in a hospital setting for 38 years. Although we had a few years of partial remission, many episodes of severe flares, she helped me acclimate to my illness, and over the years occasionally I’ve learned the necessity to use a cane 4 different types of walkers, two different types of crutches, and a wheelchair. My RA has slowly allowed me to accept my disAbilities, and accept h. the assistive technologies needed for me to continue working and raise my family. Yes there are a number of gadgets to use, medications to try, and surgical interventions. In the past 3 1/2 years I’ve had my lower spine fused with a titanium cage, resulting in tremendous pain relief, two right Foot reconstructions, and into weeks I’ll have a right shoulder rotator cuff repair and a shoulder replacement. At 68 years of age, the reality is that I’ll have more surgical interventions if I want to continue with enjoying my life, enjoying grandchildren, and maintaining my activities of daily living. I’ve learned that all the medication trials, the gadgets, and surgeries are a fair trade-off for helping me to enjoy a good quality of life. If I had realized 20 years ago all the bumps in the road that I would experience M, I would’ve been really frightened. But these trials are spread out over a period of time, and acceptance is finally garnered. Yes I understand that my lifespan will be possibly shorter than the average female lifespan. I’ve known that since first diagnosed, however my rheumatologist says with Biologics and new research that shortened lifespan is not nearly as long as one thought. We are living longer thanks to new pharmaceuticals, research, and technology. With the Internet it has helped me manage my illness because of all the educational opportunities with the legitimate medical websites. Looking at the whole ball a wax as I said can feel overwhelming and so scary initially, but as you learn of your illness you’ll learn more ways to manage it, the stress that accompanies it, and your ability to manage the symptoms with education and support. I wish you the very best luck and do ask questions on this site.

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