Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) can be a devastating, painful, and life altering experience. However, a recent study published in Arthritis Care & Research offers some uplifting news. The study found that scientific advancements in the way we treat RA have led to more favorable outcomes for patients. Compared with RA patients who were diagnosed 20 years ago, today’s RA patients are experiencing decreased disease activity… and a far better quality of life.
Thanks to early intervention and aggressive treatment, improvements in medication, and the inclusion of exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy, joint damage can be slowed or prevented – which can mean a chance for a less disabling and more comfortable life.
Although many patients with RA seem to be coping better than in the past, it can sometimes be difficult to find a Rheumatologist that is able to diagnose and treat the illness, especially for those in rural areas. A recent study in Arthritis & Rheumatism found that there are only about 1.7 rheumatologists for every 100,000 Americans. In areas with smaller populations, patients have been known to travel more than 100 miles to see their physicians. “Our study highlights that regional shortages of rheumatologists already exist,” said lead author Dr. John FitzGerald of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “There are a number of communities across the U.S. that would benefit from additional rheumatology services.”
Access to appropriate and qualified physicians is a crucial piece of early intervention and diagnosis. With accurate and early diagnosis within the first few months of the disease, patients will have the opportunity to limit joint damage, improve physical function, and drive remission.
For those with limited access to Rheumatologists, or those who endure misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, the outcome will likely remain much less favorable. Life with RA can be remarkably painful, incapacitating, and full of overwhelming symptoms. Access to the proper care and treatment is critical.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon to find RA patients who become completely disabled by their illness and unable to work. In this situation, access to your private, or employer provided long term disability benefits is imperative. To learn more about how to advocate for long term disability benefits when living with RA, contact Kantor & Kantor at (800) 446-7529 for a no cost consultation.
We understand, and we can help.
For more on these studies, see http://www.healthline.com/health-news/arthritis-ra-disability-halved-but-doctors-hard-to-find-120313.