RD stands for Rheumatoid Disease, more commonly known as Rheumatoid Arthritis. We, the patients and families of those who suffer with RD, are a global community seeking to change the name and raise awareness for this debilitating and deadly disease. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an antiquated term that unfortunately does more to harm the goal of raising awareness than it does to help. Rheumatoid Arthritis by it’s very name has arthritis as the disease and rheumatoid becomes an adjective that describes the arthritis. In other words, by calling it Rheumatoid Arthritis it makes it appear as if though it is a specific kind of arthritis that only attacks the joints. It isn’t. RD is not a joint disease. It’s an autoimmune disease with one symptom being that the joints get attacked by the patient’s own immune system. While it is true that it become most visibly apparent in the joints of those who have RD, specifically the hands and feet, it can and often does attack any and every joint in the body as the disease progresses. However, since it is an autoimmune disease and not an arthritis, it also attacks other portions of the body as well, such as the heart and the lungs. RD is a systemic autoimmune disease that manifests itself by attacking the joints and organs of those who suffer with it.
Update: On January 24, 2013, I changed this post from “What is RAD?” (Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease)” to simply “What is RD?” (Rheumatoid Disease) The reason for this change is to bring uniformity to the rheum community as we seek to raise global awareness throughout the year and specifically on February 2, Rheumatoid Awareness Day.