May 26, 2022

Arthritis Awareness Month

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Everyday Health reports more than 54 million people have arthritis in the United States. Included in that stat are conditions are a long list of health issues that cause joint pain and stiffness. Conditions like osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis are all reasons why it's so important to take a moment to recognize Arthritis Awareness Month in May and take the necessary steps to improve quality of life.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. The main symptoms are joint pain and stiffness. The Mayo Clinic explains the symptoms can get worse with age:

"The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis," describes the Mayo Clinic in an overview of arthritis. "Osteoarthritis causes cartilage — the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint — to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints."

Treatment for arthritis must be customized for each person. It will depend on the type of arthritis. The goal of any treatment plan needs to be reducing symptoms and improving the quality of life.

Risk Factors for Arthritis

Several risk factors exist that could impact if a person is going to experience arthritis. For example, some types of arthritis run in families. So if your parents or siblings have it, you might have a predisposition to experience it too. Your risk of getting arthritis increases with age. Plus, women are more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more likely to have gout. Other risk factors are obesity and previous injuries.

How To Raise Awareness about Arthritis

Arthritis Awareness Month is an opportunity to show your support for those dealing with a disease that affects nearly one-quarter of all U.S. adults. By shining a light on this issue, the community can find more ways to help with education, support, advocacy, and research opportunities. During the month of May, you are also encouraged to show support by wearing blue as a way to raise awareness about the challenges faced by people with Arthritis.

“Arthritis Awareness Month is an important time to stop and recognize the impact that arthritis has on individuals living with these conditions," says rheumatologist Alexis Ogdie-Beatty, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and medical advisor to CreakyJoints, support, education, advocacy, and research organization for people living with arthritis and rheumatic disease. Ogdie-Beatty spoke with Everyday Health about the importance of Arthritis Awareness Month.

“Cancer gets a lot of press and research dollars because people understand the impact that cancer has on a patient and the patient’s loved ones," said Ogdie-Beatty. "Despite it being significantly more common, the general public has a harder time appreciating that arthritis can be just as impactful on a patient’s life and also impacts the family.”

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