Mechele Kent is a young mom trying to keep up with a teenage daughter.
Four years ago that became almost impossible to do.
She says she didn’t realize arthritis could hit someone her age.
"I think of my dad or you know my grandma or something.. I just never thought of it as me," says Kent.
Most people would have a tough time picturing an active woman in her early forties with rheumatoid arthritis.
But Kent is actually the average age of RA sufferers.
"Cranking the car, opening the gas cap, toothpaste, just stuff like that was beginning to be a challenge for me," Kent says.
Over a four year span her pain got progressively worse.
"Nobody should live in that pain."
Rheumatologist Dr. Hulon Crayton says there have been more advances for arthritis patients over the past ten years than in the previous one hundred.
"Before we used to have to watch people deteriorate and lose their quality of life. But now we can actually stop the progression of the disease and get people back to living normal active lifestyles,"
Dr. Crayton adds the first thing people need to know is pain is not normal.
He says, "pain is a barometer it's like that light on your dash board that goes off, that's telling you something is wrong."
And people should listen - because arthritis can cause more than just pain, deformity, and disfigurement.
"Certain forms of arthritis can actually shorten your life span. There are certain types of cancers that are higher in people with rheumatic diseases."
Since starting treatment, Kent says she has her life back.
"I'm back running, I'm more involved with the cheerleaders now. I've pretty much gone back to what I used to do prior to not being treated for it. And the sooner you get treated, the better."
If you'd like more on Arthritis day or how you can get help,
log onto drcrayton.net.
You can also find him on facebook.
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