Did you know that...
- Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
- Today arthritis strikes 50 million Americans (one in every five adults).
- Within 20 years the numbers will soar. By 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans will have arthritis – unless the trend is reversed.
- Arthritis is not just a disease of old age. Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children.
- Arthritis is the second most frequently reported chronic condition in the U.S.
Facts courtesy of the Arthritis Foundation Fact Sheet (PDF).
In case you did not know, May is Arthritis Awareness month. I was unaware of this and as I read more about arthritis, the more alarming the information is. There is much more to the condition that what most people are aware of.
Those aforementioned statistics are staggering and steadily increasing every year. Arthritis is one of those medical conditions that may be stealth at first. You may notice some joint pain, or feel tired all the time. There may be some swelling and heat in 1 or more joint(s). But the pain is worsening over time, and you may notice some abnormalities—like fingers bending with an inability to straighten them, or strange lumps near joints.
What I have just described are some signs of arthritis. It is NOT one of those conditions that target a particular segment of the population. Arthritis DOES NOT discriminate against race, creed, age, color or sexual orientation. There can be genetic predispositions towards it, meaning it can run in families. Inflammation from arthritis does not just affect the joints. It can attack other organs… the eyes, the lungs, the heart—just to name a few. Certain types of arthritis can also increase the likelihood of having other medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease and kidney disease.
What is not known is if the therapies used to treat arthritis cause other medical issues to arise, or if the inflammation associated with arthritis is correlated to the medical maladies. It’s a situation where one has to wonder, “What is worse—the medication to treat the condition, or the potential side effects from the medication to treat the malady in the first place?”
Arthritis can steal the vigor and vitality from one’s life. It can make the most mundane tasks a struggle. For example, brushing or combing one’s hair… opening jars with tight fitting lids… even tying shoes feels like it is a chore. And if you are a parent to a child with arthritis, it is an even larger battle. Kids can’t always articulate what they are feeling, so sometimes it can be difficult to decipher if and when a child is in the throes of an arthritic flare, or if it is just a case of ‘growing pains’. The likelihood of adults becoming arthritic is rising, especially with the 'baby boomer generation' closely coming to retirement age. The medications used to treat arthritis in adults can be harsh on adults, even more so on the developing bodies and minds of children.
Arthritis is just a blanket term. It can come in many forms. The following are some of the more specific forms of arthritis.
Other forms of arthritis include Psoriatic Arthritis, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Scleroderma.
You can be diagnosed/or have more than one form at a time. And the younger one is diagnosed with it, the earlier treatments can start to delay further pain and joint damage in the long run.
When one thinks of the term ‘arthritis’, an image of an older American, hunched over with swollen finger joints may come to mind. However, that preconceived notion is not realistic. The incidence of arthritis in younger people is on the rise and shattering the myth that arthritis is an older person’s disease. Think about it. You may know someone in your life who is silently struggling with this condition… a partner… a friend… a family member… a co-worker, a neighbor, or you may even have it yourself or are showing signs of it.
And if you think you are showing signs of arthritis, get checked out by your general practioner and a rheumatologist. Arthritis has no cure YET, but scientists are working on finding its causes and more importantly, a cure.
It is said that ‘knowledge is power’. And what better way to become more informed about such a disabling condition that to read more about it?
The New York Public Library also has an extensive collection of materials about the various forms of arthritis. Take this opportunity to read more about it…be empowered and informed.
And most of all, be supportive and understanding of those who live with it.
Arthritis: Your Questions Answered
This takes on a more 'Question & Answer' tone. Some of the most popular inquiries about arthritis are answered here, so it is likely that if you have a question, the answer may already be in this publication.
Arthritis: Your Comprehensive Guide to Pain Management, Medication, Diet, Exercise, Surgery and Physical Therapies
This is an in-depth look on what arthritis IS and the necessary steps needed to face this condition head on. Comprehensive, it covers diet, medications, lifestyle modifications and more.
Arthritis: A Patient’s Guide
This work is geared towards a 360 ° approach to arthritis, allowing for patients to consider not only traditional medicinal regimens, but also holistic therapies and surgical considerations.
These web resources are also great places to learn more about arthritis: