Right now, one in five adults in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis. By the year 2030, this debilitating disease will affect an estimated 67 million Americans.
Working as a nurse Jackie Ryerse is on her feet a lot, and for that reason, work was becoming a challenge.
"It got to the point where it was pretty painful so it was I needed to figure out what was going on but I never thought arthritis." Said Ryerse.
Jackie was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) it's a disease that causes the immune system, which normally would fight of viruses and bacteria to start attacking the body's own tissue. Specifically the membranes in the joints. So for patients like Jackie, each and every movement is extremely painful.
"They'll have soreness, and stiffness, swelling, warmth and tenderness in their joints a lot of times it involves the small joints like the knuckles and the toes although it can affect any joint in the body including the jaw or joints in the throat." Said Rheumatologist Dr. Kara Petersen with the Avera Medical Group Rheumatology.
Dr. Petersen says RA can affect people of all ages but it typically springs up around age 30. Women not only get RA earlier than men, they are nearly three times more likely to get the disease. No one fully knows what causes RA but early detection can make a tremendous difference.
"We can prevent joint damage but we can't undo it once it happens so the key is to treat it early in aggressively and to get that inflammation under control we use a variety of medications and other things to do that." Said Dr. Petersen.
Jackie's RA first caused pain in her hips and her hands but she'll be the first to tell you, when one joint hurts they all hurt. Like Dr. Petersen said, the condition can't be reversed and instead of curing the disease Jackie is just hoping to manage it.
"It started out with anti-inflammatories over the counters that stuff didn't work, I tried a lot of things like different rubs, we had tried icing and different things like that to help but it didn't work." Said Ryerse.
Ever since 2007, Jackie has been on a daily regimen of three different medications that are specialized for her specific condition.
"Because rheumatoid from one person may vary, so we individualize medications depending on how to respond to them or how they tolerate them." Said Dr. Petersen.
Patients will also go through physical therapies to make sure they keep the joints moving. Getting a RA diagnosis doesn't mean people can't do certain activities, in fact it's encouraged. With arthritis it's a move it or lose it mentality.
"The whole idea behind treating Rheumatoid Arthritis is so that people don't have to change their activities or quit working we want to keep people in the workforce and doing the things that they enjoy and they love, that's the goal of treatment." Said Dr. Petersen.
On April 27th, Avera McKennan is hosting an arthritis fair with a panel of experts to talk on all key arthritic topics. The fair is free to the public and starts at 7:30 at the Prairie Center on the Avera McKennan Campus. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.