What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints. The synovium makes a fluid that lubricates joints and helps them move smoothly.
If inflammation goes unchecked, it can damage cartilage, the elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, as well as the bones themselves. Over time, there is loss of cartilage, and the joint spacing between bones can become smaller. Joints can become loose, unstable, painful and lose their mobility. Joint deformity also can occur. Joint damage cannot be reversed, and because it can occur early, doctors recommend early diagnosis and aggressive treatment to control RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. The joint effect is usually symmetrical. That means if one knee or hand if affected, usually the other one is, too. Because RA also can affect body systems, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory systems, it is called a systemic disease. Systemic means “entire body.”
So now you know…
My mom battles this disease and as time goes on I see her struggle, but she never gives up. She doesn’t allow the disease to stop her life completely. Sure, it restricts her from a lot of activities, but it doesn’t restrict her from living life.
My mom is one of my biggest supporters of my love for hiking and the outdoor. On my Facebook page I post many photos of my hikes and journeys mainly for her to get a glimpse of what I see while out hiking. In the beginning she was the reason I posted the pics, but over time readers have come to enjoy them as well.
Recently the disease has taken an even bigger toll on her legs and the doctor has said the solution at this point is to replace her knee and hip. I’ve been watching her try to get around and needing help just to get across a room. In my heart I wish I could take her hiking with me. I want her to experience what I do. See the sights and views I see. And hear what I hear. So I continue to take pics and tell stories about my hiking in hopes she can live through my journeys.
Hiking for Mom…
Starting this week I will be committing every step and mile to my mom. In my next post I’ll share a special project I’m putting together related to my hike for mom. It will involve many miles and trails.
Remember, life is a journey we hike by faith and I’m hiking for a cure.
We’ll fight this together and hike to cure arthritis. I’m hiking for you mom!!