Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Can Live Full, Healthy Lives


UPDATED: Wednesday August 11, 2010 2:17 PM

Aileen Wheaton visits Grant Medical Center every five weeks for an IV drug. 

It keeps her rheumatoid arthritis in check.  After four decades of decline, the illness is coming back, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic.

Seventy percent of all rheumatoid arthritis patients are women and most are in their 50s or 60s when they are diagnosed, 10TV's Andrea Cambern reported.

SPECIAL SECTION:  Female Focus

"You play the mind game with yourself and you think, 'I'm getting a little older.  Is this that?'" Wheaton said.  "The inflammation was just kind of taking over in my body."

Dr. Heather Lake has a personal interest in treating rheumatoid arthritis patients.  She has the disease herself.

In college, she remembered waking up one morning and her hands were completely closed.

Within days, the pain moved to her elbows and feet.  Lake saw a doctor who recommended a specialist.

"Seeing patients in the chairs with various deformities and not really knowing how the progression of my disease was going to go, and what was going to happen," Lake said.

She said that having the illness helps her understand her patients' pain.  Rheumatoid arthritis attacks and destroys the joints.

Wheaton said that she is a believer that it is crucial to get diagnosed and treated quickly.

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