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October 12th, 2011 by Dr. Phil

World Arthritis Day

arthritisToday, October 12, is World Arthritis Day — a chance for us to show our concern and support for all those affected by rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. It’s astounding just how many of us are affected by arthritis. In the United States alone, more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions rob at least 50 million adults and 300,000 children of living life to its fullest. I am one of the 27 million Americans who battle a particular form of arthritis called osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease.

Even before I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis — and for me it’s all in the knees — I was deeply interested in the reality of chronic disorders and long-term injuries for which we have no cure; no pill, no “silver bullet” fix. A lot of my education, professional training and subsequent practice was in an area of psychology called Behavioral Medicine, a specialty in which we helped patients with such diseases and disorders as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diseases of the central nervous system, diabetes, head and spinal diseases and disorders, chronic organic-based pain, obesity and other conditions for which there is no cure. We helped these patients learn how to cope and manage — often with very good results.

It is not always a simple answer. Chronic diseases often interact and complicate one another, which makes it really interesting sometimes. And arthritis is one of those conditions that can be greatly impacted by other disorders such as obesity. Obviously, if you have an arthritic condition and are seriously overweight, it can present challenges. By the way, if you recently heard me discussing obesity and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), another devastatingly painful form of arthritis, on Dr. Phil or The Doctors, I actually misspoke. I meant to say obesity can complicate RA, not that it can cause RA, which is, of course, an autoimmune disorder that is systemic, affecting the whole body, not only joints, but soft and connective tissues and, in some cases, organs.

arthritis2I think the reason I got so interested in this subject so early in my career is because I am one of those people who believe we have to focus on the things we can control rather than anguish over the things we cannot control. Once we decide to do everything we can do to maximize our health, we become change agents in our own lives. When I met cancer patients who believed themselves to be terminal, I would always say, “Stay alive even one more day. Fight to survive even one more day, because one of those ‘one more days’ is going to bring a breakthrough, a cure, a new strategy that will make a difference.” I believed it every time I said it and I believe it now. But it costs money to do the research that discovers new treatments, and we all have to be willing to give to the causes that need funding the most.

Back in 1979, I wrote my doctoral dissertation at the University of North Texas titled Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Psychological Intervention. Clearly, the research we were excited about then is outdated, and I hope that we all take today as a reminder that there is important research to be done now. Some young researcher who’s obsessed with this subject like I was back then needs funding to find answers — and I encourage all of us to do what we can.

That’s why I am very thankful we have a day like World Arthritis Day. We need more information, more research, and far more public attention about what is happening; because this disease is not slowing down. Within 20 years, if things stay the same, without improved treatments, an estimated 67 million Americans (one in four adults) will have some form of arthritis. That is a scary forecast. For those of you looking for more information about the various forms of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis, check out MyRACentral.com.  And go to WorldArthritisDay.org to show your support on World Arthritis Day.

I hope you will join me in raising awareness of arthritis.

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68 Responses to “World Arthritis Day”

  1. Ashley says:

    Great post, Dr. Phil.

  2. Amy Daugherty says:

    Thank you for your support Dr. Phil. I fundraise for the Arthritis Foundation and appreciate those who take the time to support a cause so many ignore or classify as “just arthritis”. For the past six years I have watched my little friend Caitlin Ryan battle systemic rheumatoid arthritis. Children are so resilient that it’s truly mind blowing. Caitlin’s hips were both bone on bone by nine years of age. Despite her chronic pain and plans for bi-lateral hip replacements she walked in the Arthritis Walk… all three miles with her hip bones touching and grinding every aching step of the way. She is now 12 and has two new hips. It’s unacceptable that any child should need hip replacement and awareness will help. Thank you on behalf of all the kids, young adults and mature individuals who fight chronic pain from arthritis on a daily basis.
    Amy Daugherty
    Chief Development Officer
    Arthritis Foundation
    Pacific Region

  3. Melissa says:

    I’m so glad you’ve set straight regarding the ‘obesity causing RA’ bit. You’re right, we’ve come a long way and still have a long way to go!

  4. Kelley says:

    As someone who has Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, I’d like to thank you for correcting yourself. Many people wouldn’t have done that, and it takes a big person to apologize.

    You are correct that being overweight can make it harder for us. Its basically like strapping on an extra 50, 75 or 100 pounds. The big problem is when these diseases are flaring or not under control you don’t feel or have the energy to exercise. It’s a vicious circle. I know, because I’m trapped in it now. I take a shower and I’m wiped out. I call it a death fatigue, because the first time I ever felt like this as a teenager, I remember vividly saying to myself, “This must be what it feels like when you die”. Then add in the pain and swelling and you have yourself a bad situation.

    Anytime I encounter someone who has just been diagnosed with Lupus or RA, I make sure to tell them to try to keep their weight under control so they don’t end up in the position I am in. They usually laugh and say they have more important things to worry about, but I always ask them if they feel like hauling a 50 pound sack on their back.

    Losing weight will not cure Lupus or RA, but it does make it a little easier on your body, but it isn’t that easy when you are in pain, weak, swollen or immobile.

    Thanks so much for bringing auto-immune diseases to the forefront.

  5. Kelley says:

    I also forgot to mention the excess weight that sometimes piles on from medication. How could I forget that? LOL Steroids, biologics and other meds often have weight gain as a side effect. Prednisone especially can be vicious with swelling as well as enhancing one’s appetite.

  6. Thank you so much, Dr. Phil. I was one who wrote in after hearing that show, where you talked about obesity being a cause of RA. When I was diagnosed at age 44, I was an athlete, ran 3 miles a day, weight lifted 2 hours a day at the gym, and weighed 125 lbs at 5′6″. The illness has devastated my physical abilities, and destroyed us financially, as chronic illness often does. Within 3 years I was in a wheelchair for a year. After a surgery I can now walk, but my hospital has threatened to sue me for a bill just over $500.00, that we cannot pay. I have gone to Washington DC with the American College of Rheumatology as a volunteer patient advocate, educating and lobbying for affordable treatments for this disease. Your ability to define this illness more clearly, helps the work that we do, immensely. Many, many thanks!

  7. Wren says:

    Thank you, Dr. Phil, for correcting your recent comment about obesity “causing” RA. I had a feeling you’d misspoken, but I became increasingly concerned when you didn’t issue a public correction. Now you have. I hope you’ll also broadcast your correction on your program.

    Obesity doesn’t cause RA, but as you said, it certain can complicate it. I’ve had RA for more than 24 years. I was not overweight or obese when I was diagnosed, but have become so as the years passed. I’m still overweight, but I’ve lost 50 pounds in the last four years. I have 40 to go, and I know first-hand how much being “lighter on my feet” helps me cope with the daily pain of RA.

  8. Karyn Bristow says:

    Thank you dr. Phil. As you are aware there was much concern after your mistake stating that RA could be caused by obesity. I am one of many many parents of a child with juvenil rheumatoid arthritis. We are desperately trying to spread awareness about this disease and how it affects our children. We want so badly for the public to be aware and understand what these children deal with every day. My very physically active sports loving boy had to give up so much of what he loved to do when he found himself suffering from terrible pain and stiffness that have had him in and out of a wheelchair and casts and splints. He has grown to be able to manage and deal with his disease by weekly injections, daily medication, faith and determination. He and our family have become advocates for ja. Thank you for supporting world arthritis day today. Please consider addressing this further on your show.

  9. Kelly Young says:

    Hello Dr. Phil,

    I am the author of the most comprehensive website online about RA and I also live with the disease. Thank you for taking this step. You are correct that “there is not always a simple answer.”

    However, there are many illnesses, like RA, which are beyond our ability to control yet. There is not anything a person can do to prevent developing this progressive, destructive disease which significantly shortens lifespan, mostly due to its affect on the heart. At least 1/3 of people with RA do not respond to current treatments, and for patients who do, the news is not good either. Only 44% respond to a level of 50% improvement, according to clinical trials, which are optimal situations with optimally responsive patients. As few as 20% get 70% improvement, but unfortunately, it is usually temporary. The body starts to make antibodies against the treatment in as little as a few months.

    This much misunderstood condition has never had a voice until now. I’m glad you mentioned Health Central. My friends there will be glad to help patients and point them in the right direction. Also, together with the support of thousands of patients, we have formed the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (rheum4us.org) to help RA patients to have a specific voice for the first time.

    I hope you will still consider having someone from our organization to do a show about this forgotten (but not uncommon) disease and the incredibly strong people who fight continually increasing disability and pain with fierceness and hope.

    I would be happy to talk with you about this further. Also, I believe a letter from a member of our Board of Directors has also written to you directly.

  10. Mellonie Breidenbaugh says:

    Thank you so much for correcting the statement that RA is not caused by obesity! I myself suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and I pray every day for a cure! This disease is so often misunderstood and confused with osteoarthrits and we don’t get the media coverage or research funding. This is a horrible disease and needs proper understanding to help fight it. So again thank you for correcting your previous statement!

  11. Carolan Ivey says:

    As a 46-year survivor of RA (dx’ed at age 5), I thank you for correcting your statement. We who suffer from autoimmune diseases struggle mightily against misconceptions that cause others – colleagues, friends, even family – to completely underestimate the devastating impact RA has on our lives. Not only our lives, but the economy as a whole in terms of lost wages, lost insurance, and disability claims.

    Commercials for over-the-counter and prescription meds lead too many people to believe that one pill or injection lets us dance the night away or return to a pro sports career with nary a blip. In reality, the meds that help the majority of us to simply endure from day to day, can also cause side effects that can be just as debilitating as the pain and joint destruction. It’s a double-edged choice all AI patients are forced to make. Drug companies that have stopped making the generic drugs so many of us depend on, due to lack of profitability, only add to our collective misery.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to rant on for so long. There is more that I could say, but I’ll stop here.

    Thanks again for doing your part to dispel the myths.

    Sincerely, Carolan Ivey

  12. Anna West says:

    Thank you for this acknowledgment about the many versions of arthritis and your misspoken comment about Rheumatoid Arthritis. Many times we get blamed for our disease because so many people are misinformed. Though I am of normal weight, many people become over weight because they can not exercise. Thank you for mentioning that even children get this, and that we should not be blamed for this condition.

    sorry you did not mention the Arthritis Foundation and the Spondylitis Association of America–two organizations that pay for the research you mention.

  13. katie says:

    Thanks Dr. Phil for clarifying that Rheumatoid Arthritis doesn’t cause obesity. I was diagnosed at age 28with RA and subsequently gained weight due to RA. Due to pain and fatigue I wasn’t able to be the active person I truly needed and wanted to be, feeling like a prisoner in my own body. I gained weight because of it, which is a domino affect creating more pain and fatigue. Fortunately, I am now in remission and have been able to lose 25 lbs in the last 2.5 months, with 40 more lbs to go I will be at my ideal weight. I am a rare statistic in the RA world when it comes to remission, and there is no guarantee that it will last forever. I’m taking an extremely expensive biologic drug that has enabled me to be active again. The drug I take retails for over $2000 per injection which is given once per month. Without health insurance this would not be possible.

  14. Jessica Dyakanoff says:

    Thank you for your support. I am a 31 year old with Ankylosing Spondylitis and dont here much about support for these auto-immune diseases. We need more awareness for arthritis and what it can do to your body. Again thank you, Jessica Dyakanoff

  15. Rhonda Tyner says:

    Dr. Phil, Thank you for clearing up the confusion about RA. All of us “RA Warriors” appreciate it as we strive to help people understand our disease.

  16. Elizabeth Riggs says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I am 69 years old and have been diagnosed with RA since 2004. Prior to that, I lived for 30 years with severe joint and muscle pain without a diagnosis – and, consequently, no effective treatment. My mother died from RA at the tender age of 59. She had a horrible case of RA, and weighed 79 pounds when she died.
    In 2000, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia – but there was and is no effective treatments for that.
    Now, after diagnosis of RA and with an aggressive rheumatologist, I’m surviving better, but my joints are injured and still eroding. I recently had to have a total knee replacement on the right. I need to lose 100 pounds, but I am unable to exercise effectively without serious consequences to my joints, and horrible pain for several days. So, I’m a chicken and a wimp – I can’t push myself enough to exercise my weight off.
    I have a PhD in nursing and would be pleased to speak on your show about the effects of RA.
    Elizabeth Riggs RN, PhD

  17. Vickie Radaker says:

    Thank you Dr. Phil for clarifying your statement regarding RA and obesity. I also was one of the ones who wrote to you after that show. Now I write again to say thank you, having been a viewer of your show for a quite few years i was hoping that it was blooper. I for one know how that goes. I”ve had RA for 16 years now, I wore a size 8 when I was dianosed, now I weigh 185, due to daily use of predisone, not able to properly exercise due to the RA pain and stiffness. I eat healthy, make sure I do passive range of motion daily, and try to walk when I’m able to, because yes, obesity does make having RA harder to do anything. I am one of the 30% where biologics will not help me, I’ve tried the Enbrel, Remicaide, Humira, and Orencia. I have to take daily predisone, Arava and pain medication as needed. Have a good day and thank you again. Vickie Radaker

  18. Linda Irby says:

    Dr Phil,

    Thank You for clarifying your statement on RA and Obesity. My sister in law has always been a toothpick and she was diagnosed with RA, CFS, Lupus and one other thing (I forget) back when she was about 35. She’s still skinny and 60 now. My son was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis when he was 22. He is 6′1″ and weighs 118 soaking wet. He can’t gain weight no matter what he eats!!!!!!!!! Also, AS needs to be brought out to the forefront like RA. I think AS is worse! It has robbed my child of having a normal life and there needs to be money going to find a cure. Social Security should be made aware of this disease so they stop making it hard on a person stricken with it to qualify.

  19. Stacie says:

    I am a 42 year old female recently coming to terms with rheumatoid arthritis. I am a healthy weight and until this disease hit me was very active. I am a teacher and coach, and I love what I do, and it has definitely put cramp in my lifestyle. After many doctor’s appointments and several medications, I have found two that are working for me. RA can take so much away from you–keep fighting and don’t give up! After two years of not coaching volleyball, I am back at it–even had an undefeated season! lol
    Thanks, Dr. Phil, for the work you do!

  20. Tessa Gutierrez in Australia says:

    Dear Dr Phil:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! for amending your previous statement (regarding RA or rheumatoid arthritis on your “obese and underfed” September 23 show) and for your support on World Arthritis Day 2011, of people who have any form of arthritis.

    So sorry to read that you have been suffering for some time from osteoarthritis too. Any form of arthritis is debilitating and I hope that you have found a regime that is helping you cope with the pain and inconvenience that osteoarthritis undoubtedly has on your daily activities.

    You are definitely correct in stating today that “obesity can complicate rheumatoid arthritis” and I appreciate that you retracted your previous statement from September 23 where you misspoke and inadvertently stated that obesity causes RA.

    As a person who was diagnosed with RA in her early twenties after more than 10 years of suffering from “phantom pains” and “hypochondria” (the very helpful diagnosis from my local Doctor when my Mother took me to seek help from ages 7 until 19 when he finally ordered tests), I have lived with misunderstandings regarding the nature of my diseases for almost my whole life. Despite the many tests my diagnoses (which kept changing) came too late for treatments that may have helped manage the onset of deformities and joint damage.

    I am now 46 and although I had to resign from my previous occupation as a Social Worker more than ten years ago and could have instantly become a welfare recipient, I still work, am earning my own living, and am contributing back to society. One of my passions has always been music and I was able to start my own business as a private instrumental tutor.

    Recently I entered a video competition through my online university provider (I am almost finished my BA in Internet Communications and will hopefully get accepted for the Honours year in 2012) and as a thank you to my supporters, uploaded a “Thank You and World Arthritis Day” video. In that video (uploaded on October 11, 2011) I referred to your misstatement regarding RA and obesity. I will record another video amending your statement as written in this blog this weekend.

    Many thanks once again for correcting your words – a very brave move in your public life as a global television presenter and media authority. I really appreciate it :)

  21. Tamara Brown says:

    Dr. Phil, thank you so much for clarifying your statement on obesity and how it can complicate rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but not cause it, due to RA being an autoimmune arthritis, which is a different form of arthritis than osteoarthritis. I was part of the concerned members of the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) who worked diligently night and day, along with volunteers and fellow autoimmune sufferers around the globe, sending over 500 letters to your show requesting that this information be corrected. THANK YOU FOR HEARING OUR PLEA!

    IAAM is the first 501(c)3 non-profit in history to target these specific autoimmune arthritis illnesses and a large part of our mission is to raise global awareness. In doing this, perhaps the world will begin to realize that the word “arthritis” is not the universal term for a generalized, localized, aches and pains. Autoimmune arthritis, in fact, is a small percentage of diseases that can affect every part of the body (systemic) including the organs.

    Thank you for your help in bringing true and accurate information to the public. We at IAAM would love the opportunity to be a resource to your show or to appear in an upcoming episode to give the world a look at what “true” autoimmune arthritis illness sufferers deal with on a daily basis.

    Again, THANK YOU so much on behalf of myself and all other autoimmune arthritis sufferers alike!

  22. Kelly Conway says:

    Dr. Phil,
    Thank you so much for making your retraction. I have been living with RA, Sjogren’s syndrome, fibromyalgia, DSAP, and Graves’ Disease for the past 10 years. I was fortunate enough to meet up with other people living with autoimmune arthritis and joined the IAAM. IAAM stands for International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement and is the first 501c3 nonprofit in history to bring together these serious strands of autoimmune arthritis including Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA), Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), Sjogren’s Syndrome (SS), Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE), Still’s Disease, Juvenile Arthritis (JA), Mixed and Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Diseases (MCTD/UCTD) .

    Hearing your statement on 9/23 struck a chord with me because I am constantly faced with incorrect information regarding my health. I’ve been told my symptoms are all in my head, that I was making myself sick, that I’m “too young” to have arthritis. Everyone has a “cure” for me and no one understands that my diseases are systemic in nature and not just “in my bones”. Dealing with all the illnesses was overwhelming and devastating on many, many levels. I was grateful to find the IAAM and meet others who are living with similar health issues. As a volunteer with IAAM, I work cooperatively with others from all around the world to eliminate the adversity caused by autoimmune arthritis by raising global awareness, providing wellness alternatives and sharing resources that will improve the qualify of life for those affected by these diseases.

    It was IAAM that heard your statements on both Dr. Phil and earlier on The Doctors. We rallied our volunteers and through that movement over 500 emails were sent to your show (we asked the public to contact you respectfully to request a retraction). Some of us worked through the night to contact other organizations affiliated with various types of autoimmune arthritis to join in. We are so grateful that your team took the time to hear our pleas. Thank you so much for taking the time to correct this statement on RA. As a member of the IAAM, I am thrilled to hear that your show and The Doctors will be working on programs to bring new and clear information to the general public. I hope that you will include various types of autoimmune arthritis since there are so many varying types. Thank you for listening to your audience and thank you for being honest and clarifying the mistake. Feel free to contact the IAAM for any support. Our goal is global awareness and we are happy to help in any way.

  23. Danielle says:

    Dr. Phil thank you so much for retracting your statement about obesity causing RA!

  24. Michelle says:

    I appreciate your clarification of your earlier statements. I would love to see you do a show on these young warriors, kids who suffer from arthritis. I am part of a Facebook group that brings together Moms from all over the world who have a child with arthritis. We offer support, advice, a shoulder to cry on. Some of these women I have been chatting with for almost 14 years, since my daughter’s diagnosis at 18 months. They have been an incredible lifeline for me in times of trouble. I think it would be wonderful for you to show that arthritis isn’t an old person’s disease.

  25. Linda says:

    Dear Doctor Phil,
    What a relief!! I am a long-time fan and have always loved to hear you speak. You are right on the money. The day you misspoke about the cause/effect relationship of obesity and RA, my heart just sank. Was I hearing right? Dr. Phil– educated, fair, informed, Dr. Phil would make such a gross error? How would I continue to watch and support you?? I haven’t watched your show since. Thank you for being big enough to admit a mistake that reached millions and did potential damage to our fight for awareness. Clearly, it was a slip of the tongue and you are not misinformed. It’s important that the millions who heard the error also hear the retraction. Please make a retraction on your show. It would be a tragedy to leave your retraction only on your blog where it will reach only a targeted few. Still a fan.

  26. Emily says:

    Thank you so much for not only correcting the false statement, but for advocating and educating others on what Rheumatoid Arthritis truly is. I am 19 and have Still’s Disease, a systemic-onset type of RA, and I am constantly mistaken for having an “elderly disease” that a simple dose of motrin will fix. There is no adequate media coverage of autoimmune arthritis, so thank you for giving those of us suffering and our loved ones a moment to step out of the dark and not feel like a silent majority.

  27. Kristie says:

    Thank you… I have two kids both with JIA, neither are obese in any sense of the word… I was baffled by you statement and am so grateful for the retraction~ Maybe more people will see the kids are severely affected… even more so it seems than adults. Thank you for pointing out that is is autoimmune! That helps so much~

  28. Nicole says:

    Thank you so much for helping to raise awareness…my 2 year old daughter suffers from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis…she was diagnosed before she was 2 and at that time we didn’t know anything about it…now that she has it, I have become her biggest advocate and try and raise as much awareness as I can…it’s always helpful when more people can raise the awareness as well. And as others have mentioned, thank you for pointing out the fact that it is autoimmune; so many people don’t realize that and don’t realize how serious it actually is.

  29. Jeannine says:

    Dr. Phil, Thank you for correcting your statement about obesity causing arthritis. And, thank you for pointing out that RA is an auto-immune disease. I have a 6 year old son who was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) (formally called Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) at age 4. He is far from overweight, in fact he is in the less than 5th percentile in weight for his age. He also has severe hypermobility in his joints putting him at a higher risk for joint damage. Kids Get Arthritis Too and we would love to have you, Dr. Phil, dedicate a program to raising awareness and educating the general public of this disease. There are roughly 300,000 children in this country that are battling the daily pain and challenges that come with JIA. I’m willing to bet that number is much,much higher given how often it goes mis or undiagnosed. Will you help us Dr. Phil? You have my email address, I hope to hear from you or your staff. Jeannine

  30. Stephanie says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! We need more public figures like you to bring attention to this debilitating disease. My daughter was diagnosed before the age of 2 with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and at the time we were really in the dark as to what it meant and what her future would be. She is now 10 and unfortunately she is in the ugly midst of a flare right now. Her little body is swollen all over and she is starting on a course of Enbrel on Friday. But she is truly my hero and inspiration. She does not complain at all and takes all her medications and injections like a champ. We are praying for a cure and someone to bring this more into the light. It is not just an old people’s disease – kids get arthritis too!

  31. Belinda Langley RN says:

    Thanks for clarifying your previous statements regarding rheumatoid arthritis. Though more information is available than ever before, a lot of the info is incorrect. I appreciate you clearing that up. It would be really great if you would consider doing a segment on autoimmune disease. I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s for about 7 years. It’s been a life changing event. Pre-disease, I could accomplish anything. Now, simple tasks become something that I almost need to re-learn, modify and adapt with each flare, as the disease presents differently each time and often comes on out of the blue. Most of us can meet the challenges of the disease just fine most of the time. I find it very difficult to deal with the reactions of others; the disbelief, the impatience, the lack of empathy, and the judgments. Life with chronic illness, often becomes a full time job in itself. I, fortunately, am still employed, but often, only get about 3 hours sleep in a 24 hour period because of pain, allowing extra time to get ready,doctor appointments, lab appointments, picking up prescriptions, etc. Doctor appointments are more frequent, as are dentist visits. Having autoimmune disease is expensive and often a huge financial burden for elastic splints/joint supports, over the counter NSAIDs, water therapy, dental fees well over the norm. I work extremely hard to maintain my health, and continue working. I work harder now that I am ill than I ever have before in my life. Often, I get discouraged because of the lack of understanding of the effect this group of diseases has on my life.
    I hope to see more education for the public and for primary care physicians and medical staff. Thanks again.

  32. Karen says:

    Hi Dr. Phil!
    Thanks for enlightening the country on RA. I have a 9 year old daughter who has Extended oligoarticular Juvenile Arthritis, was originally JRA. She was diagnosed at age 2. She is on a lot of medication including Methotrexate injections and Remicade infusions, along with a lot of daily medications. Our JA kids have no spokesperson, no public awareness commercials, yet there are 300,000 children in the US living with this debilitating disease. Our JA kids need exposure to raise awareness and let people know Kids Get Arthritis Too! (KGAT) Will you help us in raising awareness for our JA kids by dedicating a show to Juvenile Arthritis and Kids Get Arthritis Too? This would be a great opportunity to help our kids and educate the public that Kids Get Arthritis Too! I hope you will help our kids, they deserve it! Thanks for your time and hope to hear from you soon! Karen, NC

  33. Lene says:

    I am the Community Leader of MyRACentral.com and want to thank you for bringing attention to World Arthritis Day. The various forms of arthritis are little understood and rheumatoid arthritis is one type that is often the subject of misconceptions. I also want to thank you for linking to our site. I believe this will be an important part of educating many more about RA.

    And you’re right. Controlling what you can is one way of connecting to hope. And hope is essential.

  34. Stephanie Mosset says:

    Thank you for your support of this chronic disease. I am a mother of four girls age 11 to 2. My 9 year old and 5 year old suffer from juvenile arthritis. Both girls were diagnosed before age 3. This is truly a silent but life altering disease. My husband and I have essentially cleared out our savings to pay for one of ourdaughters drugs that she takes monthly by iv at the toon of 8000 dollars monthly. To the outside our family looks like a pretty perfect family. This disease doesn’t show itself like many other critically I’ll children. However, our medicine cabinet is chalked full of medicine for my daughters to take just so they can get out of bed in the morning and button their own pants ontheir own. We consider ourselves one of the lucky ones because we don’t have to drive more than 45 minutes to a Childrens hospital where my children can be cared for, unlike many who have to fly to get to a children rhematoligist. As a mother you never expect motherhood to be spent in and out of ghe hospital with no cure in sight for your children….but when given the choice all we can do is fight, hope and pray for a cure. In the Mosset family we have learned to laugh, live and love for just today and tomorrow is slways an unknown that we wont let take away the joy we can find in each day. Maybe, you Dr. Phil can be that advocate for the 300,000 children living with what is known as an old person disease. In my state alone we have 6,100 children suffering and I have two if them in my house!

  35. E Schnak says:

    Thanks so much Dr. Phil for clarifying this as well as pointing out Arthritis Day. Your activism and advocacy for those of us with autoimmune arthritis means so very much to so many!

  36. Cindee says:

    Dr. Phil,
    Thank you for helping so many of us shed a little light on RA. Many don’t know or believe that our children can be afflicted. I can think of 300,000 people and their parents who would love to see you do a show on how these poor kids cope with pain, thoughts of suicide, depression (over both treatment and the disease itself). My daughter quit walking at two. While she is able to walk now at almost 12 years, she’s seen more pain (again disease as well as treatment) than many “normal” people ever do or can even fathom. The whole family is affected. My son’s life is much different from his peers’ lives who do not have siblings with a chronic disease. Marriages are reduced to clinical discussions. With only 200 pediatric rheumatologists (4 states have NONE), the doctors are stretched to their limits and often simply cannot get back to us as say a cardiologist would. Yet they get up every day and give all they can and more on their off time through lectures at Foundation events. Surely these physicians suffer some psychological ramifications of not being able to_______. Her medicines cost more than what most of my friends make. The past 10 years has been a constant battle to keep her insured. This has affected ALL of the relationships I have (same for every member of our family). Friendships have been aborted, challenged, and yes, even forged because of this terrible disease. Aunts, uncles, and grandparents sometimes are unsympathetic and disinterested in facts. Our “industry” can keep yours in business for an eternity, but both sides need an introduction.

  37. Beth says:

    Thank you for correcting your statement that obesity causes RA. I have RA and it is a disease that is much confused with osteoarthritis. It is frustrating to many of us that suffer from this disease that exercise is not always possible when our doctors tell us to hold off on exercising during a “flare.” Additionally, many of us are on prednisone, a medication that can help with pain and inflammation, but cause the belly fat and “buffalo hump” that is *so* slimming. Not only do we fight the misinformation that is in the press, but also from genuine organizations that do not do enough to educate the public about what this autoimmune disease is.
    I have followed along with Kelly Young (who posted earlier here) since being diagnosed almost two years ago, and she has done much to further the education of the disease of Rheumatoid Arthritis, along with giving a space for those who feel alone and misunderstood with a disease that starts off as “invisible.”
    Please do anything within your power to further the education of the public of what RA is and what treatments are out there (biologics (not cherry juice!)) and what we face with an invisible disability.
    Sincerely, Beth Henshaw, RRT

  38. Hello Dr. Phil,
    I am the Founder and CEO of The International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM), the first 501c3 nonprofit in history to exclusively benefit Autoimmune Arthritis diseases. Not only do I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, but the 40 plus volunteers who helped create and continue to assist IAAM in our efforts are also all affected. This originally started as a movement of awareness due to the frustration that surrounds the word “arthritis”, with a declaration of change, to myself, in the living room of my apartment in Los Angeles, CA.
    After only 1 month of introducing this movement onto the Social Network, it traveled to 26 states and 6 countries. After 3 months it hit all 50 states and volunteers started joining from as far as New Zealand, the UK, and Africa. It was at this time I decided to change my career path and become the CEO of a global nonprofit…as I sat in the living room of my apartment.
    On May 7th, 2011, on my 40th birthday of all days, the official 501c3 status arrived in my mailbox. It was the need of awareness, above all, that brought this organization to fruition; this alone should prove just how important this issue truly is.
    The night the “Overweight or Underfed” episode aired, the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement immediately launched a plea for at least 500 people contact the show, providing education and requesting a public retraction. Volunteers worked nonstop for days to achieve this goal. Matter-in-fact, MyRACentral contacted IAAM to interview us about our efforts, which was scheduled to post this morning, in honor of World Arthritis Day. What a wonderful surprise to see the article wasn’t necessary; a resolve had been established!
    Dr. Phil, thank you. Thank you for allowing more than 500 people to tell you their stories, to explain their struggles and to ask for a retraction. Thank you for listening and thank you for understanding how important it was to the Autoimmune Arthritis community to hear a public figure FINALLY set the record straight. While it would have been wonderful to have IAAM featured on MyRACentral today, it was much more wonderful to watch awareness happen for a community that has waited decades for it.
    The last letter I wrote to you closed with a plea for your understanding and assistance to rectify this situation. This letter I close with applause and gratitude, as I sit here in the living room of my apartment on this close of World Arthritis Day, watching awareness finally happen.

    Tiffany Westrich
    Founder and CEO
    The International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement

  39. Stephanie S. says:

    Arthritis is so misunderstood its frustrating to deal with every day. I am a mother of a 13 year old girl who has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since she was 15 moths old. She has been on Methotrexate, Prednisone, Relafen, Orencia, Arava, Enbrel and Humira to name a few. She had fluid drained from her knees and steroids injected when she was 3 years. She has never participated in PE or organized sports because she can’t, she is in to much pain. She was also just diagnosed with Fibromyalgia last month. Apparently, lots of people with JRA/RA also get diagnosed w/ Fibro too. But if you saw my daughter you would never know all this was going on with her. My husband rides in the California Coast Classic bike ride every year from San Francisco to Santa Monica to raise money to find a cure and raise awareness for the kids and people living with Arthritis.

    I do appreciate that you made a correction regarding RA and obesity on this Blog but it would be so beneficial if you would air you apology. You could bring so much awareness to the cause. As other people have posted it would be amazing if you could do a show about the children and young adults who have RA. People do not understand that arthritis is not just for old people….Thank You

  40. Vanessa McDonald says:

    Hi Dr Phil

    I am so pleased that you are discussing this topic. After 4 years of suffering severe pain and mental anguish, I am on the verge of being diagnosed.

    Prior to getting sick, I was training 2-3 hours a day in kickboxing and generally leading a very active lifestyle.

    The past 4 years, I have had to leave my home, family, friends and a great job in New Zealand so I could relocate to Australia in the hope of getting a diagnosis. These years have been a barrage of testing (including invasive), surgery and basically feeling like a guinea pig. I have been made to feel like I am crazy by the medical profession and treated like a hypochondriac. (And I can assure you I usually have a great aversion to doctors and needles! lol)

    I found out today that I have a similar condition to my father – a man I do not know as he left New Zealand when I was 10 years old to live in Oregon, I have not seen him since (although we have had 4 phone calls in the past 5 years). Anyway, turns out my father has a rare version of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and it looks like I have exactly the same thing. In fact after comparison, our case history of where our pain is, follows the exact the same pattern. Weird huh?

    So now I am left trying to find out as much as I can about this disease and am trying to educate people in the process. But I can tell you there is a lot of misinformation out there and people have little understanding of chronic pain. Could I suggest you read this article:

    I have lost a lot of friends because I don’t have the energy to go out and do things like I used to be able to do (I am 36 years old) – they just drift away. I have had to give up ALL of my sport – body combat, zumba, salsa dancing. I am in so much pain with my hip that I sometimes also have trouble swimming (although I kinda do a weird “dog paddle” in the water – yep I force myself to exercise most days even if its just to sit/walk in a hot spa).

    The worst with this disease is that I react to pretty much every drug – therefore like many others am unable to take pain meds etc. I also know that I will never be able to have children as I would never wish this disease on anyone (especially a child).

    Ankylosing Spondylitis is genetic and yes there is not enough known about it nor is there a cure! Perhaps you can convince some of those wealthy movie stars to invest in medical research instead of excessive and unnecessary bling?!!

    Vanessa McDonald

  41. Karyn Bristow says:

    Dr. Phil. I wrote earlier and told you a little about my son Ry. What I didn’t do is ask you if you would consider helping Ry and the 300,000 other children and families suffering from this disease. We don’t have a spokesman for our kids. We don’t have commercials. We need help spreading awareness. Would you consider a show highlighting ” kids get arthritis too” ? Please consider it and let me know.
    Thank you
    Karyn Bristow

  42. Colleen Ellermeyer says:

    Dr. Phil,
    Thank you so much for making people aware that children also suffer from arthritis. I have a 16 yo daughter who was diagnosed at age 17 months. She does not know what is like to have a normal childhood. Hers has been filled with doctor visits and medicenes! She is my hero though because she never lets JIA get the best of her. She has played softball, soccer and was a cheerleader. She is a huge advocate for JA and we both do fundraisers for the arthritis foundation. If you ever do a show dealing with chronic illnesses that children suffer from, don’t hesistate to get in contact with her because she loves telling people about it! Thank you again for telling the world!

  43. adrienne says:

    Thank you for correcting your statement Dr. Phil. I have had rheumatoid arthritis for almost 20 years and when I was diagnosed I was a thin as a rail. I only got heavy when I was put on steroids. I feel that so many people, my family included, don’t understand RA that when celebrities like you make comments that are wrong, it just compounds the problem. Next thing I know my mother is calling me telling me I need to lose weight and my arthritis will go away! People look up to you and listen to you. You need to be careful what you say. Thank you for the correction.

  44. jennifer says:

    We defently need more information on this subject. I myself have severe osteo arthitis. It is in my knees mainly. I’ve been told it’s throughout my entire body. I’ve had 3 knee surgeries this year alone. 2 of which were total knee replacements due to my osteo arthitis. I’m only 42. I was morbidly obese for 20 + years as well. Yes I mean was. I’ve lost approx 183 lbs now. I was 380 lbs. I still feel achy & stiff at times, just not as often. I still have to take arthitis meds for the rest of my life. I really distroyed my body by being over weight. When i lost the weight yes it took ALOT of that pressure off of my knees, but not all of that pressure. It certainly didn’t take the pain away. the damage had already been done. Plus now I have ALOT more health issues & I’ve had a total of 9 surgeries in my life. This is not something I’d wish on anyone. I have young kids to still raise and it’s not easy with my arthitis at times. I hope you do more on this.


  45. Daniella says:

    I am from Sweden but of course we had your show here and I see it sometimes. Really good show! My mum have this that you talk about and it is so hard when you dont know what to do to help her.

  46. I am greaghtly saddened by the commernts I’m reading. People are experiencing so much pain and needless expence when reliefe is as far away as their greengrocer. Yes we become what we eat end we are being poisened by the tecnology thatr is being forsed apon us by the major foodproducing companies who strive to make our food last longer. The results are that once we’re dead we also take longer to decompose. We need to eliminate refined carbohidrates, sugars and the ever present trance fats.

    We need to have our food as unrefined as possible, because the whole food contain all the assentail ingredients to digest and assimilat it in our bodies and keep us colestrol free. A kernal of grain contain just the rite amount of trace ellements, essencial oils and roughage to keep us healthy wile the carbs gives us ennergy. The refining prosses robs us of these ingrediens nature has worked so hard to put into its ptoducts and it is being thrown away.

    With our fruit and veg as well.Start with eating it all as it was made by nature. It contains thet most essential building blocks namely ENSIMES in its purest form. If you cannot eat it with peal’nall, then peal it, but eat it raw. Grate it, juice it, combine it, even mix it with herbs to enhance its flavour, but have it raw. The next step is to steam it. Lets face it, its not much fun to eat a cold sallad in winter, so steam your veg. You will be amaised how sweet it tastes.

    Refined sugar is a complex sugar but fruit contains sugars that is easely digested with as little by products that has to be eliminated by the body. These byproducts are tocsic to our bodies and the body must use ennergy to get rid of it. Our health is created in the fruit of the land and the manufacturing companies denature it by refining it and that is why we become sick.

    I am not talking idly because I too am an Ostio Artheritic. So I know of the pain and inability to walk as fast or far as others, or not biing able to open abottles or carry a heavy load. But I read up on my illness. I eliminated all red meats and prosessed foods eg. everything that comes in a can, bottle or packet. Even cheese! Now my joints on the rite side of my body is pain free and the deteroiration of th cartelage has been reversed. So stop giving more monies to the drug companies to do more research because thei are no naerer to finding a cure for all our pains than we are. The answer lies in the produce that God created in the first place.

    Good luck. June

  47. Dave Tye says:

    I recently read an article about a new laser treatment for arthitis. The procedure was to massage in an ointment on the skin and then apply a low energy laser over the area. The idea is that the laser penetrates below the skin level and temporarily relieves arthitis pain.

    The author even expanded the benefits of this type of treatment to skin problems like warts and moles.

    Has anyone every heard of this.

  48. Michelle Grosskreuz says:

    Thank you for your retraction Dr. Phil! I was diagnosed with JRA at the age of 2 although I probably had it since birth. I had my right hip replaced at age 23 and my second (left) at age 25. Since the implants don’t last forever, in 2008 I had to have a hip revision of my right hip and in 2010 another hip revision of my left hip. My right ankle is autofusing, both shoulders need replacing, my back is deteriorating and my right elbow needs to be replaced. I am certainly not overweight. In additon to JRA, I have celiac’s, Sjogren’s syndrome, Lupus overlap and a few others….I just wanted to thank you fro hearing our plea. It’s so hard when you see over the counter medication commercials claiming that two of their pills takes Arthritis pain away all day….and causes a misconception in the public to what Arthritis is. Taking two pills and stopping Arthritis pain is just not true! Thank you for clarifying. A show on Rheumatoid Arthritis and other autoimmune diseases the affects to ones emotional outlook should be a consideration for a show segment. I have deformaties yet I “don’t look sick” help us show the public what these disease do. Thank you!

  49. Cindy says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I have written to you several times!!!! I need help! I have a brother that
    is 6′ tall and 115lbs. He is on his death bed and no one will help him! I am
    completly desperate for help! I am 46 yrs old and I watched my father pass
    at the tender age of 16 he was 49! I can not watch my brother die!!!! Please
    Please help me!!!!

    I am sorry this does not relate to your blog, however I don’t know what else to

    Please Dr. Phil????

    Thank-you for any kind of response!

  50. Brenda Williams says:

    Thank you Dr. Phil for speaking about RA. I would really like to see you do a show on this topic. I first became ill at 13 and was treated for Rhuematic Fever and relapses thereof for 8 years. At the age of 21 as I finished my junior year of college, I became sick again and the doctor I had been seeing would no longer see me. I remember laying in bed, in severe pain, not even being able to turn myself over and believing that I was going to be in a wheel chair for the rest of my life. Thanks to my sister, who had just begun to work as an office manager for a doctor, she got me in to see a Rhuematologist who diagnosed me with RA and believed that I had never had Rhuematic Fever. That diagnosis came in December of 1980. I was put on high doses of prednisone but managed to go back to college and finish my degree (I should mention that I had to work my way through). I missed a lot of high school and 1 semester of college because of this disease. I haven’t had a day without pain since I was 19 and have been on some type of narcotic pain medication since the age of 22. I had exploratory surgery at 16 and my first joint replacement at 23 which was my left hip. Since my first joint replacement, I have had that hip replaced 2 other times plus a surgery for a staff infection that developed in the scar tissue where the incision(s) were made. I have also had both shoulders replaced (the right one twice) and my right knee replaced. The joints in my feet and hands have fused together and I suspect I haven’t had my last joint replacement. I have struggled my entire life but managed to finish college and work in a high stress job for about 25 years. In 2005, my body gave out and I had to give up my job. When that happened, I lost my identity. I have never fit in and there is no one close to where I live except for my husband, who is a wonderful man, but it is very lonely. I have struggled with my weight all my life but since I had to go on disability, it has been harder to keep it under control. There have been many days that I have felt like such a burden on my husband and I wonder if my family wouldn’t be better off without me. Between, my not being able to do much physically or hold down a job, and the costs of my medications, finances are tight so I spend 99% of my time alone. We live an 8-9 hour drive from my family and his family lives in California while we live in Chicago. In addition to RA, I also have Fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, depression, and several other things including the Chronic pain. I agree with some of the other posts that the TV commercials skew the publics perception of this disease. I can’t even count the number of dirty look I have gotten over the years because I have a handicap parking permit. I have been discriminated against and left out of things ( for my own good), but people don’t realize how hurtful those actions can be.

    I really hope that you will see fit to do a show on this topic. I have a great deal of respect for you, but would much rather see a show on this subject that could potentially help millions of people than a return of the mother-in-law from hell. I want to believe that it is about helping people and then those people paying it forward and not just ratings. I watch your show pretty regularly, actually, yours is the only talk show I do watch and I watch a lot of TV because I am pretty much a prisoner in my own home due to the limitations on my ability to get around. Plus I don’t really have anywhere to go. Thank you for reading the details I shared. There are certainly more including the at least 3 times I came very close to dying. I feel like I have a purpose to help others that are walking in similar shoes but I have to get a handle on my own health first which means at the least right now finding a new Rhuematologist that is willing to do a true evaluation of all my health issues and working to find something that helps because that is the right thing to do, not just because of the money he can charge me which is how I am feeling about my current one. Most of the time, I feel like I just need to be evaluated from top to bottom, but it has been my experience that that isn’t how our medical system works although it should.

    Thank you again for taking the time to read all this and I hope to see at least one episode done on this subject in the not too distant future.

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