An elderly lady places her hand on her husband's shoulder.


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Volume 6  Issue 9 • September 2017 • Rheumatology Research Foundation


Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month

Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month

In September, the Rheumatology Research Foundation partnered with the American College of Rheumatology for Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month. Organizations, doctors and patients nationwide joined the campaign to educate their communities about the impact of rheumatic disease and the importance of early detection. 

There were letters to the editor printed in local newspapers and messages shared via Facebook and Twitter. Millions of people around the country watched Terry Bradshaw explain that athletes aren’t the only ones who experience sore joints. A joint IQ quiz increased awareness about rheumatic diseases, and one person won a jersey signed by Terry for testing their joint IQ knowledge. 

September may be coming to an end, but efforts to increase awareness continue. Below are some ways you can participate: 

  • Join the American College of Rheumatology on Twitter for #RheumChat each third Thursday of the month to discuss different topics related to living with and managing rheumatic disease. 
  • Read monthly blogs from the Simple Task website to stay updated on information patients need to know to be active participants in their care. 
  • Share your story on social media using #RheumLife and other patient's stories.

Patients describe the challenges of life with an autoimmune disease.

Meet people who are living with rheumatic diseases, and learn what the Foundation is doing to help. In this #RheumLife series, we will share patients' perspectives of life with rheumatic disease and feature the Foundation-funded researchers who are working to advance treatments and find cures. Visit the improving patient care page to to read more stories, or share your experience with us on Facebook or Twitter

 #RheumLife: Osteoarthritis

A rheumatologist examines a patient who has osteoarthritis in the knee.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is exceedingly common joint disease that most often affects middle-age to elderly people. As the population ages, more Americans will be faced with this painful and debilitating condition.  Not only does OA disrupt the lives of individuals and families, it also is a top cause of disability.

Wendy Williams, who plays flute for the Minnesota Orchestra.Wendy Williams
(Photo courtesy of Travis Anderson.)

Patient Perspective
Wendy Williams, a professional musician for the Minnesota Orchestra, has been living with rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years. While she has been able to manage her rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis has been more of a challenge in her career. She explains, “I’ve been lucky, because I’ve tolerated medications well. With an outstanding rheumatologist, we’ve minimized the effects my rheumatoid arthritis. My osteoarthritis bothers me way more than my rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve adapted my flute, but it feels like there is nothing more medically that can be done. I’m more at risk for disability for OA than RA.”



Amanda Nelson, MD, MSCR, who is studying osteoarthritis.Amanda Nelson, MD, MSCR

Efforts to Help
Amanda Nelson, MD, MSCR, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is studying the feasibility of using ultrasound to assess OA. Currently, radiography is more frequently used, but it does not correlate well with symptoms and is insensitive to change.  Ultrasound could serve as a more cost-effective, widely available and reliable alternative. Dr. Nelson’s study will highlight the value of using ultrasound and determine if it can identify OA changes. Earlier detection of OA means more effective treatment options for people like Wendy.






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