Where to Find a Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects the joints in the body. Autoimmune diseases develop when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body, causing painful swelling in the areas affected. With RA, many joints are attacked at once.

Prevalence of RA

Roughly 1.3 million American adults have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Women are affected more often than men. RA can affect a person at any age, but people are typically diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60.

The main symptoms of RA are pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected joints. Fatigue, weight loss, and a mild fever can also be present in people with RA.

Diagnosing RA can be difficult because the signs and symptoms often mimic other disorders. There is no one test to diagnose RA. Instead, doctors will do a physical exam and order blood tests, gather a patient's family medical history, and perform imaging tests such as X-rays, which use radiation to formulate an image of the joints, to see how much damage has been done.

Over time, it can get harder for people with RA to move their hands, wrists, knees, or hips because of the severe damage the condition has done to their joints. RA can also harm the skin, lungs, eyes, heart, and blood vessels.

Coping with RA can be difficult, but forums, groups, or chatrooms are one avenue of support for people living with the condition.  

The multi-ethnic therapy group meeting for grief recovery has a lighthearted moment.

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Best Online and In-Person RA Support Groups

Connecting with people who are in the same health situation that you are can help you cope with your diagnosis. It can also help you find a community that can offer tips for management that you may not have received from your doctor.

Research has shown that joining a support group for people with RA can significantly increase a person's quality of life and their understanding of the disease.

Blogs

Blogs that are written by people living with RA can empower others simply by making them feel less alone. Reading a personal account of someone else's experiences with RA can help you gain insight into your experience with the disease and learn new ways to cope with your symptoms.

Examples of popular RA blogs include:

Healing Well Rheumatoid Arthritis Support 

The Healing Well Rheumatoid Arthritis Support forum offers people with RA a space where they can interact with others, ask questions, and get tips on things like treatments and diet suggestions.

The space can also be a place for you to simply vent your frustrations to people who understand and may feel the same way.

To join the forum, you can create a user account by hitting the Join Us button at the top of the page. Once you have joined, you can open a new topic for discussion and interact with other members of the forum.

Live Yes! Connect Groups

The Arthritis Foundation has created Live Yes! Connect Groups for people living with RA. The group offers virtual supportive connections that are open to both caregivers and people living with the condition.

To participate, start by signing up on the website. Then you'll be able to connect with people who are in your area.

Daily Strength Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group

The Daily Strength Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group is one of the largest online support groups, with 2,000 members and 16,000 posts.

Upon joining, you will be able to post about your own experiences, offer and get tips for coping with the disease, and connect with other people who are managing RA.

Some of the latest posts discuss medication warnings, how to be active when you have joint pain, and issues with current healthcare providers.

Personalized Support Groups

Research has shown that people with shared interests and the same health condition can experience a greater quality of life when they join groups that are centered around specific hobbies.

PainAction

PainAction gives people with RA a guide for locating support groups in their communities, which helps people access in-person support rather than just online support.

The website also publishes articles on topics like emotional coping skills, ways to increase social support, and self-management skills.

Apps

Apps give you RA support in the palm of your hand. The myRAteam app offers users the chance to connect with other members who are living with the disease. By connecting with others through the app, you can gain insight into the varied experiences that people have with RA, including treatments and therapies. The app is free to download on both Apple and Android devices.

Track + React is also free to download on both Apple and Android devices. The app gives users the opportunity to keep track of their pain levels as they change throughout the day.

Diet, exercise, sleep, and daily activities all play a role in RA pain, and the app can help you track how these factors might make your symptoms better or worse.

This app also gives you the opportunity to send the information directly to your doctor, which can help you communicate about your treatment goals and progress.

Friends and Family

Going to your friends, family, or significant other for support may not give you the same insight into your disease as an organized RA support group would. However, that does not mean that asking for help from your loved ones is not helpful.

Family members and friends can be there to let you vent and can offer practical help on days when your symptoms are severe and interfering with your daily tasks.

Your Medical Team

Your medical team can often recommend support groups that you may not have heard about. Because there are several different types of support that you can investigate, going through your medical team may help you find an option that is led by nurses, social workers, or other trained facilitators.

Social Media Support Groups

Social media is another great tool you can use to connect with people all over the world who are living with RA.

Facebook Support Groups

Healing Rheumatoid Arthritis Naturally Support Group is a Facebook community for people interested in alternative healing methods. Advice from the group revolves around diet, exercise, and stress management.

If you’re looking for a lighthearted and humor-driven Facebook group, check out Squeaky Joints. The Facebook community is open only to people with RA and is centered around living life to the fullest even as you cope with the challenges of the disease.

There are also private Facebook communities you can join: Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group and Rheumatoid Arthritis Support and Awareness, both of which require prospective members to answer preliminary questions before being accepted.

Forums

Online forums are another way for you to connect with others living with RA. Two examples are Rheumatoid Arthritis Forum and RheumatoidArthritis.net.

While RhematoidArthritis.net requires you to create an account to post and comment, the Rheumatoid Arthritis forum does not.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Caregiver Support Groups

Caring for someone with a chronic condition, including RA, can be a full-time job. You might not have as much time for social activities, work obligations, and self-care as you used to.

Research has shown that caregivers face new or worsening mental health conditions, including depression or anxiety, and their physical health may also decline.

Just as support is important for people living with a chronic health condition, caregivers should also consider joining support groups. Here are a few examples:

Living with RA can be challenging, but know that you are not alone. There are many places, online and in real life, that you can turn to for information, support, and encouragement.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I find a local rheumatoid arthritis support group?

    Finding a rheumatoid arthritis support group can be overwhelming because there are many to choose from. The first step is deciding what type of group you would like to be a part of. There are online, in-person, and other variations that can all be beneficial. After you’ve decided, you can join, log in, or sign up for your preferred support community. If you want to find a local support group led by professional social workers in your area, ask your doctor for recommendations.

  • What can I expect in a rheumatoid arthritis support group?

    When you join a support group, you can expect to connect with people who have literally felt your RA pain and know exactly what you’re going through. Connecting with other people who are living with RA can provide you with tips that you may not have thought of yourself and can help you feel less alone in the day-to-day challenges of living with the disease.

  • How can I start a rheumatoid arthritis support group?

    Starting your own RA support group can be a lot to take on, but can also be rewarding. First, look at how many groups and what types of groups are currently available in your area. For example, there might already be general support groups, but you could create a more tailored option, such as Women with RA Who Knit or Young Athletes with RA. After you’ve come up with your idea, consult a facilitator's guide, such as the one provided by the American Chronic Pain Association. This will provide you with all the details you need to get started.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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