Hope Courage Faith – Raising Awareness for Arthritis
Did you know that 50 million American adults (that’s one in every five!) have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis? May is designated as National Arthritis Awareness Month! Throughout the month, advocacy organizations like the Arthritis Foundation will be working with local communities all over the country in order to help raise further awareness for this common medical condition. In honor of Arthritis Awareness Month, we have created a brand new infographic which may help to paint a picture of what this observance is all about.
Common Forms of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA): Often referred to as “wear and tear arthritis”, osteoarthritis is currently the most common form of arthritis affecting an estimated 27 million people in the United States. This degenerative form of arthritis can be diagnosed in people of all ages, but it is most commonly found in adults who are older than 65.
With osteoarthritis, the protective cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in the joint begins to break down. As it slowly wears away, the bones in the joint are exposed and begin rubbing together as the joint is moved. This leads to joint pain and stiffness, plus this deterioration can limit the functionality and range of motion in the joint. Osteoarthritis tends to develop in the weight bearing joints like the knees, hips, and even the lower back.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): This is chronic inflammatory form of arthritis that is classified as an autoimmune disease. So at the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, the patient’s immune system actually produces autoantibodies which mistakenly begin to attack the healthy cells of the synovium (a thin membrane that lines the joints). This immune system response causes additional fluids to build up in the affected joints, which leads to pain and inflammation.
Similar to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can cause cartilage deterioration and permanent damage to the bones of the joints. However, the inflammation that is caused by RA can also eventually damage many of the body’s vital organs, such as the heart or the lungs. Learning to spot the early indications of rheumatoid arthritis is very important, because treatment should be started as soon as possible in order to inhibit disease progression.
Juvenile Arthritis (JA): Unfortunately, arthritis is not just a disease which affects adults. It is estimated that there are nearly 300,000 children or adolescents living with some form of juvenile arthritis in the United States. Juvenile arthritis actually serves as an umbrella term used to describe various inflammatory or autoimmune disorders which can develop in youth’s before the age of 16. At this time, the most common form of juvenile arthritis is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). While it does not affect as many children as juvenile diabetes (type 1 diabetes), juvenile arthritis is one of the most commonly diagnosed chronic childhood conditions.
Events Held in Honor of Arthritis Awareness
If you are thinking about getting involved this year, then it is time to get moving! You can easily take part in a local Arthritis Walk, as there are plenty scheduled throughout May and into June. These events not only help raise awareness for arthritis, but they also help raise the funds needed to support ongoing research efforts for rheumatic diseases. This would be the perfect opportunity for you to form a team of friends, co-workers, or family members to get out there and show their support. Oh and if you do decide to take part in one of these Arthritis Awareness events, remember to wear some blue!
(As a friendly reminder, there are a number of other advocacy events that will be taking place throughout the year! Please check out the arthritis awareness events detailed on our infographic….)
Help Find a Cure for Arthritis
Another aspect of this Arthritis Awareness Month is letting more people know how much their donations can help this worthy cause. As you can see on our infographic, there are many organizations which will be accepting donations during the month of May. If you are interested, even the most modest of gifts can help to fund new research projects and educational programs. With every donation, these organizations can take another step closer to curing a disease that affects so many lives around the world.