What You Need to Know About the Rheumatoid Factor

The rheumatoid factor (RF) test can help evaluate your RA diagnosis and prognosis.

What You Need to Know About the Rheumatoid Factor

Rheumatoid factor (RF) is the antibody responsible for the body attacking its own tissues in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In most cases, high levels of rheumatoid factor (20 IU/mL or above) occur in patients who have rheumatoid arthritis and/or Sjögren’s syndrome. The higher the RF, the worse the disease and the greater potential for joint damage and disability.

RF is evaluated when doctors suspect any form of arthritis. If someone is positive for RF, it doesn’t always mean that the patient has RA, but negative results do not rule it out either. However, in combination with RA symptoms, the RF test plays an important role in both diagnosis and prognosis of RA.

Read More at http://www.rheumatoidconnect.com/rheumatoid-arthritis-articles/322-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-rheumatoid-factor?category=treatment+and+care

Loving Your Body With Fibromyalgia

Tips on how to accept and cherish your body.

Loving Your Body With Fibromyalgia

Most of us are obsessed with appearance and body image, which is understandable. After all, attractive people in our society are at an advantage. This is also the same society that often stigmatizes chronic diseases and those suffering from them through pity, disbelief and blame. The focus on outer beauty, the stigma against sick people, and the experience of being chronically ill in and of itself all have a negative impact on body image.

Body Image and Self-Concept

People with chronic illness have a greater risk for negative body image. An astounding 80 percent of American women with and without chronic illness are dissatisfied with their appearance. Men can also suffer from poor body image; at least 10 million men in the United States experience some type of eating disorder in their life, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Read more at http://www.fibromyalgiaconnect.com/fibromyalgia-articles/482-loving-your-body-with-fibromyalgia#BGwIUWuyxiT86QzD.99

7 Ways to Overcome Your Fears About Your Chronic Illness

Learn how to tame your worries about your health and arthritis with these simple coping techniques.

7 Ways to Overcome Your Fears About Your Chronic Illness

Most of us worry about our health because we have loved ones to care for, we don’t want to be dependent on anyone, and we don’t want to give up the things we love. But when you have a chronic illness, you have even more to be concerned about regarding your health. You might feel angry, helpless, and even afraid.

I consider myself an expert on the fear brought upon by rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia because I have learned to overcome and manage my worries alongside my health challenges for the past eight years. I also know that being afraid is one of the most common reactions to forced changes but it isn’t something you should let consume your life.

Read about the 7 ways to overcome fears about your chronic illness at http://www.arthritisconnect.com/arthritis-articles/656-7-ways-to-overcome-your-fears-about-your-chronic-illness#Dur8plpB3PZfo5VW.99

Taking Off the Super-Parent Cape With Fibromyalgia

How to be a great parent while managing fibromyalgia and not over-extending yourself.

Taking Off the Super-Parent Cape With Fibromyalgia

You might know Supermom. You might even be her. I am—well, I was Supermom until chronic illness forced me to take off my invisible cape.

My Secret

Once upon a time, I had a secret that few people knew. Behind my perfect façade, I was sick and exhausted. I was losing sleep, setting highly ambitious schedules and goals, and overwhelming myself—all things that aren’t a good idea with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia.

The natural law of “something has to give” eventually took its toll on me. And I realized I didn’t have the ability to bend time or do things without effort. I was a just a mom with chronic illness and no superpowers.

Read more at http://www.fibromyalgiaconnect.com/fibromyalgia-articles/474-taking-off-the-super-parent-cape-with-fibromyalgia#4tYv1oh3vwJG1Z0u.97

7 Rules for Living Well With Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness doesn’t have to be hard

7 Rules for Living Well With Chronic Illness

A diagnosis of a chronic illness means you are sick and your illness is never going away. It is natural to feel a sense of injustice over the loss of something you thought you had control over. But living with chronic illness doesn’t have to be hard if we establish rules to make it easier.

Here are seven rules that have helped me to live well despite rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Rule 1: Trust Yourself to Find Answers

One of the most difficult things I dealt with in the ten plus years I was searching for answers was the possibility that all my symptoms were in my head. My being sick meant I had to trust in myself to find the right answers and not to let others deter me. There are going to be people along the way, including family, friends, and even members of the medical community, who will try to convince you that your symptoms are “all your head.” These people are ignorant and will never understand what your illness and symptoms are about. Don’t let their perceptions make you doubt yourself and your need for answers.

Read more at http://www.rheumatoidconnect.com/rheumatoid-arthritis-articles/131-7-rules-for-living-well-with-chronic-illness#y8jGQOBc2m798KOu.99

9 Valuable Lessons Gained From Chronic Illness

Our advocate Lana shares nine valuable lessons that have shaped her life over the last six years.

9 Valuable Lessons Gained From Chronic Illness

Going into my sixth year living with a chronic illness, I consider myself experienced in meeting the challenges imposed by chronic illness. The term “chronic illness” doesn’t bother me and I no longer see my illnesses as a burden. Rather, I view them as a determinant of who I can become. Further, how I choose to cope determines the lessons I gain and how those lessons shape my very existence.

Here are nine valuable lessons that have shaped my life over the last six years.

Enjoy Life Even When It Hurts

There have been many occasions where I just didn’t feel motivated to follow through on plans with friends and family. But when I forced myself to get out and push past the pain, I was glad I got to enjoy that time and to make those memories. And yes, it is true that we should take care of ourselves — and there will be plenty of plans that do get cancelled — but we shouldn’t make canceling plans the norm. If you are going to be in pain, you might as well do the things you enjoy to help you forget. Trust me, your mind, body and soul will thank you.

Read more at http://www.diabeticconnect.com/diabetes-information-articles/general/1069-9-valuable-lessons-gained-from-chronic-illness#Oy0kw4cbqtCikQ7F.99

7 Signs It Was Time to Find a New Doctor

7 Signs It Was Time to Find a New Doctor

I was in the waiting room dreading yet another appointment with my rheumatologist. It was nine months prior that I was diagnosed by my primary physician with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and I didn’t know what my doctor-patient relationship should look like. At that third appointment with Dr. “A,” I determined it was time for me to find a new doctor to treat my RA and fibromyalgia.

The Red Flags

How did I know when the time was right to find a new doctor? Here are the seven red flags that helped to make that decision.

  1. My doctor did not listen to me. Often times, it felt like Dr. A was not listening to my concerns. She would interrupt me or even repeat the same questions she previously asked. Moreover, at each visit, she seemed uninformed about my health and why I was there. It was as if I was seeing a new doctor at each appointment. Moreover, she refused to change my medications despite the side effects I endured. For example, I brought to her attention that my vision had worsened since I started on Plaquenil and she refused to acknowledge that this was a side effect of the medication and insisted that I continue taking it.
  2. I felt that she did not believe I was sick. My doctor was a rheumatologist and she still would not attribute some of my symptoms to RA. She would suggest things like stress and hormones. Further, even though she had diagnosed my fibromyalgia, she refused to prescribe anything for it. She told me to lose weight and change my diet. I could not understand the reasoning behind her thinking and it made me skeptical to share with her how I was feeling. Under her care, I was not getting better; I was getting worse.

Read more at http://www.fibromyalgiaconnect.com/fibromyalgia-articles/318-7-signs-it-was-time-to-find-a-new-doctor#J2tXu07TlcwquwlX.99