Brushing your hair, buttoning a shirt, making breakfast. Imagine waking up every morning and finding it difficult to perform these simple tasks due to stiff or painful joints. Unfortunately, this barely scratches the surface of what it feels like to live with a rheumatic disease.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in four Americans lives with rheumatic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout. It is the leading cause of disability in America. 300,000 children live with some form of rheumatic disease. There are hundreds of forms of arthritis and related diseases. The chances are high that you or someone you love is affected by rheumatic disease.
Early intervention and treatment from a rheumatologist can improve quality of life for people living with rheumatic diseases, but many people struggle to get a timely and correct diagnosis.
As we recognize Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month this September, as a retired rheumatologist, I encourage my fellow community members to learn about the symptoms and whether they might benefit from a referral to a rheumatologist. The American College of Rheumatology has useful information and easy ways to get involved on its Simple Tasks (www.SimpleTasks.org) website.
By increasing awareness about rheumatic diseases, we can help more people get the care they need to manage pain and maintain a normal quality of life.
Steven Eyanson, M.D.