When I became a rheumatologist I never imagined that I and several members of my family would end up with a disease that I treat. I have learned so much more about arthritis with the personal struggles that my son, John, and I face daily.
John was diagnosed with JIA when he was 10. Up to that time, he was playing competitive soccer when he began to have symptoms. He is now 15 and is better with treatment but still has to deal with flares of the arthritis. I was an avid runner and had to stop. I am currently taking a medical leave because my symptoms became severe enough to prevent me from helping others. I am devoting my time off to fighting this disease so that I may return to continue treating my patients.
I also have the privilege of being the 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis medical honoree. I have been a South Central Region Arthritis Foundation board member for several years and have seen what the Arthritis Foundation does to improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases.
Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues, hampering or halting physical movement.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), previously referred to as JRA, is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger.
Arthritis is not just a disease of old age. Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children.
Each year, people with arthritis account for 44 million outpatient visits and 992,100 hospitalizations.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Arthritis is actually a more frequent cause of activity limitations than heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
Within 20 years the number of people with arthritis will soar. By 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans will have arthritis, unless the trend is reversed.
The role of the rheumatologist is to diagnose, treat, and medically manage patients with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. These health problems may affect the joints, muscles, bones and sometimes other internal organs (e.g., kidneys, lungs, blood vessels, brain). Because these diseases are often complex, they benefit from the care of an expert. Only rheumatologists are experts in this field of medicine.
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