RUSSELLVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Mary Uptain remembers what originally sent her to the doctor, long ago.
"Mostly I would just start aching all over and my hands would be like they're on fire," she described.
She said doctors were stumped until she went to Birmingham in the middle of a flare-up, which doctors labeled Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The Russellville resident needed someone closer to home.
"Until I met Dr. Dick, I was at a point where I couldn't function. I have three children and I have 10 grandchildren. And I couldn't go to ball games - I couldn't do anything," she remembered. "And he told me, 'We will have you to where you can go to the football games,' and I did."
There are some activities that are extremely tough on joints with arthritis, one of which is climbing up and going down stairs. It is a similar situation for Mary.
The most common forms of arthritis are osteo, a degenerative joint disease, and rheumatoid, a systemic, inflammatory, auto-immune disease.
Her doctor, Michael Dick, is a specialist - a Rheumatologist.
"Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease that has symptoms that are attributable to that inflammatory basis, such as fatigue, weight loss... it can hurt other organs in the body that are affected -t he eyes, the heart, the lungs," said Dr. Dick.
He also said women are 2 to 3 times more susceptible to getting Rheumatoid arthritis than men.
"And then the treatments are different," he said. "The treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis aims at blocking or preventing the inflammation that's causing the disease. Our treatment with Osteoarthritis mostly aims at limiting pain and optimizing function."
He advocates weight loss and exercise for those battling either disease.