The Rheumatoid Arthritis Ribbon

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The use of ribbons and specific colors to raise awareness of a cause has become omnipresent over the past decade. While certain versions like the pink breast cancer ribbon or the red AIDS ribbon are easily identifiable, others are not as familiar.

In spite of the impact it has on millions of Americans, many people are not aware that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has its own distinct ribbon and set of colors. To add to this, this debilitating disease has many different organizations that work to raise awareness about the condition. In fact, it even has its own day of recognition. Read more about these important details in the sections below.

rheumatoid arthritis awareness ribbon
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Significance

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can impact many joints throughout the body. It causes a faulty immune response that attacks the healthy tissue surrounding a joint and causes swelling, pain, and stiffness in these areas. 

This joint damage can permanently alter the way an individual’s body moves and can significantly impact your ability to function throughout the day. In more severe cases, the disease can also cause damage to internal organs like the heart or lungs.

It is estimated that over 1.5 million people in the United States have RA. In spite of this, there is still a lot that is unknown about the disease.

While there are specific risk factors that make a person more likely to get RA, its exact cause is unknown. In addition, while many effective treatments can help manage the condition’s symptoms, doctors are not yet able to cure it. Because of this, raising awareness and fundraising for further research are incredibly important tasks.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Ribbon Colors

The RA ribbon is actually made up of two colors, each with its own important symbolic meaning:

  • The body of the ribbon is indigo colored, which represents wisdom, knowledge, and infinity. This dark shade is meant to call attention to the role that understanding and awareness play in this sometimes misunderstood diagnosis.
  • The lining of the ribbon is gold. This color represents both hope and triumph. It is supposed to evoke feelings of optimism in people who live with RA and hope that one day a cure will be discovered.

The indigo- and gold-colored ribbon was originally created by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF) back in 2013.

Prior to this, a two-toned purple and blue ribbon that represented both lupus and autoimmune diseases was used. Occasionally, a more generic blue ribbon signifying all types of arthritis was also displayed.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day

Beginning in 2013, February 2 was designated as Rheumatoid Awareness Day. This annual day of recognition was established by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation in an effort to increase worldwide understanding of the disease.

With the increase in awareness associated with a yearly day of recognition, the group hoped to:

  • Improve disability accommodations
  • Increase research funding and insurance reimbursement
  • Elevate healthcare quality for patients with RA

February 2 is also the day on which Groundhog Day is celebrated. RPF points out that an analogy can be drawn between the uncertainty of the groundhog’s forecast and the uncertainty that many people feel when they are first diagnosed with this disease.

In addition, this day of awareness is celebrated at the beginning of Heart Disease Awareness month. Celebrating at the beginning of February helps call attention to the potentially damaging cardiac side effects that RA can have in some individuals.

Other Times for Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness

In addition to Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day, there are several other times set aside to recognize people with this condition and raise overall awareness of the disease around the world.

  • Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month is celebrated in September.
  • National Arthritis Awareness Month is recognized in May.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis Week is between September 7 and September 13 in the United Kingdom.
  • National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month is in March.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Organizations

Increasing worldwide understanding and awareness of RA is no small task. Fortunately, there are many groups dedicated to this worthy undertaking.

From grassroots local groups to national foundations, many unique organizations exist throughout the country. Here are some of the most well-known ones:

Ways to Promote Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness

Proudly displaying an indigo and gold RA ribbon on your person is a great way to raise awareness of the disease, but it is by no means the only way.

Informing yourself about RA on some of the websites listed above and talking about the disease with your friends or loved ones is a great way to educate others. Most of the listed sites have news stories and features on the latest advances in research to help you stay informed. 

In addition, you can:

  • Research local 5K races: Many cities have 5K run/walk events dedicated to raising money for research and increasing the visibility of this diagnosis. A quick Internet search can help you locate the one that is closest to your hometown.
  • Join support groups: Many hospital systems and community organizations hold RA support groups targeted toward patients and their loved ones. These gatherings offer the chance to connect with others who are living with this condition and to discuss the challenges that go along with it.
  • Advocate for research funding: Reach out to your local representative and advocate for increased research funding, insurance reimbursement, or disability accommodations for RA. The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation suggests speaking from the heart and sharing your own personal experiences or perspectives when contacting elected officials. Resources on how to effectively make a difference in this manner can be found on the RPF website.

A Word From Verywell

Receiving an RA diagnosis and navigating through the plethora of treatment options can be an overwhelming experience. Fortunately, you are not alone in your journey.

The indigo and gold RA ribbon is a symbol of the community of patients and loved ones who stand behind you during this potentially challenging journey. As each year passes, and awareness of the condition grows, the hope that someday a cure will be found becomes greater and greater.

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Article Sources
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  1. Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network. Let’s dig into everything about RA. Updated September 13, 2018. 

  2. Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. The rheumatoid disease awareness ribbon. Updated September 2, 2019.

  3. RA Warrior. Awareness ribbon for rheumatoid arthritis, finally. Updated January 26, 2013. 

  4. Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. First awareness day for rheumatoid arthritis established by rheumatoid patient foundation. Updated January 22, 2013.