What Can I Do About My Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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Dr. Calvin Brown, Jr., from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, discusses recent advances in treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), shares ongoing research efforts and explores whether or not a cure is within our reach. Dr. Brown also stresses the importance of getting an accurate diagnosis, as is RA is just one of more than 100 subtypes of arthritis and many patients are incorrectly diagnosed

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, its medical staff or Patient Power.   Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor.  That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.


Well, you may have heard that there are types of conditions called autoimmune conditions, when your immune system is doing what it shouldn’t, and it could be that it is inflaming your joints.  And one of the types of arthritis that can be very serious is rheumatoid arthritis, and there are literally millions of people in the US who are affected by it.  Sometimes diagnosis is tough.  Sometimes people he even get the wrong diagnosis for a while.  Well, that’s the bad news.  The good news is that now there’re increasingly a broad range of treatment and encouraging research.  We’re going to talk about all that during our Patient Power program. 

First, I’d like to introduce you to someone who has been living with RA for many years.  She’s 34 now, but it began when she lived outside Cleveland in Bath, Ohio, age 13, and that’s Beth Anne Demeter.  And Beth Ann, tell us what were you noticing about yourself?  What were the symptoms when you were 13 years old? 

Beth Anne:

Hello.  Yeah, when I was 13, I guess I was really confused.  I was young, you know, now I at least consider myself a kid at that age.  I’m sure I felt very grownup at the time, but I was starting to grow up.  My body was starting to change, and I was a girl becoming a woman, and I didn’t know what was happening.  All I knew was that in some aspects of my life I was very limited.  I couldn’t straighten my knees.  I had a lot of pain.  I couldn’t flatten my hands on a table.  I couldn’t make a fist, and at some point I couldn’t even put my hand in my pocket.  So I was very confused.  I didn’t know what was going on. 

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