HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA, is a debilitating autoimmune disease impacting 1.3 million Americans, including children.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is different than Osteoarthritis, the natural wear and tear of old age. Unlike grandma’s arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis is when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body's tissues...particularly in the small joints of your hands and feet. If not treated, the patient risks joint deterioration and severe deformity.
Rheumatoid Arthritis typically hits women over 40. Although there is no cure for RA, doctors say there are ways to manage it, especially if you're diagnosed early.
'The longer the patient waits for this to be treated, the higher risk the patient takes for that joint that's inflamed to be deformed over time, " explains Houston Rheumatologist Dr. Tariq Tariq Abou-Khamis.
FOX 26 News Emily Akin was diagnosed with RA several years ago. Her moto has now become, “Move to keep moving.”
Dr. Abou-Khamis agrees. "It's very essential you keep moving," he said.
Here are links to information about Rheumatoid Arthritis, efforts to find a cure, and support groups.