Posts Tagged ‘rheumatoid arthritis’


I just realized it had been almost a year since I’ve sat down to write a post. A year? Seriously? Where does time go?

Since my last post, I moved to Austin, Texas. It’s almost as weird to type right now as it is to recite my new address over the phone to the mail-in pharmacy. I often forget my 312 area code was replaced by 512.  Although I love Austin to pieces, sometimes I still want to shout, I’m from Chicago!… But I suppose that’s becoming old news as I’m soon to embark upon the 6-month anniversary of my relocation to Texas. And since there are something like 150 people moving to Austin each day, I’m officially a local by now.

New job, new dates, new address, new puppy, new cowboy boots and a fresh new perspective on life…. But with all of those changes, one thing remains constant, I still have RA. On the bright side, I escaped the worst winter Chicago’s most recent history. And along with that, I saved myself from a lot of extra pain and stiffness that for me comes hand in hand with cold, brutal weather.

I will soon be testing Actemra, a newish RA injectable. Have you or anyone you know tried this medication? Would love to hear about your experience with this drug because after all, sharing is caring.

Be well my friends.


Innovations Consulting Group is holding a FREE series of workshops for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis this Tuesday, 7/17 at the Cornell Club at 6 East 44th Street from 6-8PM.

RSVP online at:  www.innovationsgroup.org/events

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Calling all Chicago folks affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Innovations Consulting Group is holding a FREE series of workshops for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis this Thursday, 6/14 at the InterContinental Chicago Hotel located on Michigan Avenue from 6PM-8PM.

Patient workshop invitation


Surgeon perfoming laproscopic surgery on a shoulder. Here's to hoping us RA patients can avoid painful joint surgeries like these in the future.

I just came across a really exciting article written by Susan Bernstein, published by Arthrtis Today which claims that joint surgery is on the decline for us Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers. I’ve posted an exert from the article below because this news is too great not to share. I’m loving this kind of progress!

When rheumatologist Erdal Diri started working at Trinity Health Center in Minot, N.D., a decade ago, he saw many rheumatoid arthritis patients referred to him by surgeons frustrated by the levels of joint inflammation they saw.

“Most of these patients were ending up with orthopaedic surgeons and during surgery, they opened up their joints and they were so inflamed that they closed them up and sent the patients to us” to get the inflammation under control before joints could be operated on, recalls Dr. Diri. Better inflammation-fighting drugs and a new approach to treating RA more aggressively has changed that, he says.  From an average of 30 to 40 RA patients being sent for surgery a year at this rural hospital, Dr. Diri now sends only 4 to 5.

“We get control of inflammation at an earlier stage, and we don’t see the joint deformity that we used to see, so the numbers of surgeries are going down. We are living in the anti-TNF era, and we’re seeing the results of that now,” he says.

Biologic drugs that suppress inflammatory agents like tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and others are indeed making a positive impact for people with RA. Surgery to repair joints deformed by RA is down sharply nationwide over the last twenty years, according to recent research.

The most recent study, conducted by rheumatologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and published in Journal of Rheumatology in January, tracked surgeries among 813 RA patients from 1980 to 2007. The researchers, led by Eric L. Matteson, MD, found that the incidence of any joint surgery within 10 years of their diagnosis went from 27.3 percent in the 1980 to 1994 period to 19.5 percent from 1995 to 2007. Soft-tissue surgeries declined the most over the period studied, but total joint replacements were down as well. Women and obese RA patients still had more surgeries than men or thinner patients.

In an earlier study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, researchers supported by the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS, part of the National Institutes of Health) also tracked a group of California RA patients from 1983 to 2007 and found similar declines. Knee replacements for these patients dropped 19 percent over the period and hip replacements dropped by 40 percent.  

The full article can be viewed at the Arthritis Foundation website.


I’ve written about the correlation between weather and arthritis in a few of my past posts, but felt the need to bring it up again since we’ve had record breaking weather conditions in Chicago and I’m feeling really crappy today. After two weeks of 70+ degree weather in Chicago this March (and feeling just freaking fantastic), it’s barely reaching 50 degrees on this dreary Monday… Translation = I could barely get out of bed this morning. My knees are tender, my feet and knuckles are swollen, my back hurts, my hips are barely holding my legs to my torso. Seriously though, my boring list of aches and pains could go on for ages. But rather than ponder them further, I took a shower and schlepped my way to work this morning.

Why do my Rheumatologists never talk about weather and Rheumatoid arthritis? I know there has to be a relationship between the two. Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for this 30 year old stuck in a 50 year old’s body.

The cool people at Weather.com offer us an “Aches & Pains” index which gives users a sliding scale to help identify when they might want to stay in bed due to unseasonably achy weather. 10 means “Don’t even think about leaving your house today!” While 0 means “Go for a jog, climb a mountain, do everything you’ve ever wanted to do… while you can”. So check out the site before planning a big event, getaway, etc. It could help you prepare for the best… or the worst.

And in case you were curious, below is the methodology for the “Aches & Pains” index at weather.com.

Aches & Pains Index Methodology

This index forecasts the potential for weather-related aches and pains, especially in people with chronic health conditions (such as migraines or arthritis) that might make them sensitive to changes in weather conditions. “10” represents the highest risk of weather-related aches and pains. “1” represents the lowest risk.

The Aches & Pains Index is calculated using barometric pressure, absolute humidity, chance of precipitation, temperature and wind. Areas of quiet, dry weather during warmer times of the year are generally associated with lower levels of aches and pains. Approaching areas of low pressure or strong frontal systems, both leading to stormy weather, may cause higher levels of aches and pains.

The scale for the Aches & Pains Index is: Very High (9, 10), High (7, 8), Moderate (5, 6), Low (3, 4), Minimal (1, 2)

Chance of Precipitation

Precipitation includes not only rain, but also snow, sleet, hail or any other form of water that reaches the ground. It is considered a factor in aches and pains because rainy weather accompanies changes in barometric pressure and humidity. For those who are sensitive to hot weather, rain can cool the atmosphere and may bring some relief.

Humidity Change
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. An increase in absolute humidity (the amount of water vapor per unit of air), especially in the summer, is commonly associated with an increased potential for aches and pains. Some research also finds a correlation between dry, cold air and migraine headaches.

The four levels of the Humidity Change scale are: Steady, Slight, Moderate, Significant

Temperature Change

Rapidly rising or falling temperatures are a hallmark of big weather changes, indicating underlying shifts in barometric pressure. Extremes in temperature, not just changing temperatures, can also affect the potential for feeling aches and pains. Low temperatures may trigger migraine headaches, exacerbate circulatory conditions and contribute to arthritic joint stiffness. Cold weather has also been associated with an increase in asthma-related hospital admissions.

The four levels of the Temperature Change scale are: Steady, Slight, Moderate, Significant


I’m sick and tired. I’m tired of simply “dealing” with the pain caused by my RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). Since my diagnoses at 23 years old, I’ve probably tried 30 different combinations of Rx’s. Some have made me nauseous while others have made me feel great. It’s strange to say that I’ve taken chemotherapy medication, but have never had cancer. I’ve been poked, prodded and my body’s been stretched out in every direction. At the end of the day, my 20s were anything other than boring. And then I woke up and decided I’d finally had enough. Something had to change and I had to figure out what was happening inside my body.

Alas. I’ve turned myself into a living, breathing science project over the last month and a half since I began seeing a naprapathic doctor at Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago. I have learned so much since the science project began. In our first hour and a half long visit, my doctor and I discussed so many details of my life. We talked about everywhere I’ve lived, all the medical conditions my family and I have ever had, my diet and exercise habits. And during the meeting, we found a potential tie between the dental implants I received roughly 6 months prior to my first symptoms of RA. So, we ordered a metal allergy test during that meeting and within two weeks, we learned that I am allergic to tin. I didn’t previously know any of this, but it turns out that tin can be found in endless amounts of everyday, household items. Tin is in toothpaste, soaps, perfumes and plastics like Tupperware. Contrary to popular belief, soda cans are not typically made of tin. The most important discovery we made is that tin can be found in dental implants.

I’m beyond floored to learn that the dental implants my surgeon installed in my mouth could have triggered my RA and caused all of the pain and suffering I’ve gone through over the last 7 years. It’s ridiculous. I’m told that if I have the implants removed, the RA will likely not be cured. I’m told that if the implants didn’t trigger the RA when I was 23 years old, something else would have, eventually. It angers me to think about how much better my 20’s could have been if I never had the implants which may have caused my RA. Now I have to make a decision and decide whether or not I want to have the implants removed. Sure, the monetary cost for the procedure would be high, but the expectations for a cure would be even higher. Additionally, the thought of having metal that’s currently drilled into my jaw removed from my jaw is scarier than all hell. The first procedure was extremely painful and I’m guessing the removal surgery would be 1,000 times worse.

What to do… What to do.


A fellow blogger recently wrote about the correlation between chronic pain caused by her Still’s Disease and her monthly visitor… and this really got me thinking. What is the correlation between lady hormones and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) pain? Here are a few things we already know.

  • RA affects three times as many women as it does men
  • Many women begin feeling their first RA symptoms after giving birth

So I started keeping track of my own symptoms and doing some additional online research.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain and Lady Hormones

It turns out I DO feel absolutely terrible just before and after aunt flow is in town. I mean most girls I know might get bitchy or some occasional cramps before the painter is in, but I straight up can’t walk or function. It just isn’t right!

And if my personal story isn’t convincing enough,  Medicine.net says the following.

Researchers are finding that the immune system is influenced by signals from the female reproductive hormones. It seems that the levels of hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, as well as changes in these levels can promote autoimmunity. “Autoimmunity” is a condition whereby the immune system (which normally wards off foreign invaders of the body, such as infections) turns and attacks the body’s own tissues, such as skin, joints, liver, lungs, etc. Autoimmune diseases typically feature inflammation of various tissues of the body.

Autoimmune diseases are also characterized by a disorder of the immune system with the abnormal production of antibodies (autoantibodies) that are directed against the tissues of the body. Examples of autoimmune diseases include not only those that feature inflammation in the joints, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis, but also disease of other organs, such as occurs in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and juvenile diabetes mellitus.

When women report only having symptoms or having increased symptoms at monthly intervals that coincide with their menstrual periods, many doctors will recommend adjusting or adding medication to reduce inflammation selectively just before and during the period. The rationale for this short-term adjustment is that the immune system may be temporarily more active as women’s hormone levels change during their periods. The additional medication can frequently help to avoid the symptom roller coaster that affects many women with arthritis.

This leads me to question why not one single Rheumatologist, or OBGYN for that matter has ever discussed the correlation between hormones and RA with me? It seems clear that a relationship between the two exists. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and start tracking your monthly friend to see if you find a pattern. I’d love to hear your feedback.