Camryn Manheim speaks out about rheumatoid arthritis

10/24/05

Actress reveals personal story during live webcast with Arthritis Foundation

ATLANTA, GA, October 25, 2005 The Arthritis Foundation, in partnership with Amgen and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, today announced the launch of "Camryn Manheim Speaks Out About Rheumatoid Arthritis," an educational effort to help raise awareness of the progressive nature of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and encourage patients to visit a rheumatologist to learn how to manage the disease. "Camryn Speaks Out" is an extension of the RheumMates lifestyle-coaching program introduced in 2004.

Emmy Award-winning actress Camryn Manheim recently was diagnosed with moderate RA, a chronic and painful joint disease that can lead to permanent disability. Now, for the first time, she will speak out about her experience during a live Webcast Friday, October 28, 2005 from 12:30 1:30 pm (EDT). Dr. Steven Abramson, Medical Advisor to the Arthritis Foundation and Chairman of Rheumatology at the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, will join Camryn for the educational discussion. Anyone who has RA, or knows someone who is suffering from this potentially debilitating disease, is encouraged to register for the free event and public Q&A at www.SpeakOutAboutRA.com or www.RheumMates.com.

"I went to several doctors before visiting a rheumatologist who finally diagnosed the painful swelling and stiffness in my joints as rheumatoid arthritis," says Camryn. "It took close to eight months for me to get properly diagnosed and treated. I lost valuable time, and the joint damage I sustained is irreversible. I'm sharing my story with the hope that it will inspire others to take control of their rheumatoid arthritis by learning more about the disease and working with a rheumatologist to manage it."

Camryn first noticed the pain and stiffness in her fingers while she was practicing sign language, a passion of hers for more than 20 years. Initially, Camryn was told the pain was due to aging, but because of the severity of her symptoms, Camryn knew it was something more. It wasn't until Camryn conducted her own research and consulted with a rheumatologist that she received a proper diagnosis and found a treatment regimen that worked for her. Now, Camryn's symptoms are under control and she again has the energy to enjoy her normal daily activities, like teaching sign language and playing with her four-year-old son. Camryn's rheumatologist also is managing her treatment process closely to ensure she does not endure additional joint destruction.

"Rheumatoid arthritis requires early and aggressive treatment to relieve the pain and inflammation as well as to stop the joint destruction that may lead to permanent disability," says Dr. Abramson. "I encourage people with RA to have a meaningful dialogue with their rheumatologist about the symptoms they are experiencing and how the disease is impacting their daily life. Then, the risks and benefits of various treatment options can be discussed to determine what is right for that patient."

There is a wide range of treatment options available to manage the symptoms of RA, from exercise and joint protection, to medication such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, and biologic agents. Biologic agents are a newer class of medications that specifically target parts of the immune system and can help stop the progression of joint damage in RA. Current treatment methods focus on relieving pain, reducing inflammation, stopping or slowing the progression of joint damage, and improving patient mobility and vitality.

During the interactive Webcast, Camryn and Dr. Abramson will discuss topics such as the impact of RA on daily life, the silent damage it can cause, the role a rheumatologist has in the treatment process, and how the condition really affected Camryn's life. Camryn and Dr. Abramson also will answer questions from participants. Shortly after the initial (live) airing, the Webcast will be archived on www.SpeakOutAboutRA.com.

RA is a chronic and potentially disabling condition that affects nearly two million Americans. It can cause painful swelling and stiffness to the joints of the hands, feet and wrists that can make simple tasks such as getting dressed, holding a cup of coffee or climbing stairs difficult. If not properly treated, RA also can cause deterioration of the joints, which can worsen over time and lead to permanent deformity or disability.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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