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How Much Do You Know About Arthritis?

 

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month

One in five adults and over 300,000 children suffer from some form of arthritis, a debilitating and painful disease that attacks the joints. Arthritis actually refers to over 100 different conditions of the musculoskeletal system that can lead to severe joint pain and/or damage and mobility issues. The three most common forms of the disease are osteoarthritis, a progressive degenerative joint disease, rheumatoid arthritis, a systemic disease characterized by inflammation of the membranes lining the joints, and juvenile arthritis, which refers to arthritis affecting children age 16 and younger.

One goal of Arthritis Awareness Month is to dispel some common myths about this disease. Many people think of arthritis as a disease of old age when in reality two-thirds of arthritis sufferers are age 65 and younger, and it is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Many people believe that there is nothing that can be done to treat arthritis, which is also a misconception. Given the joint damage that can occur with certain forms of the disease, early detection and treatment is critical to managing the disease’s progression. Both medical and non-medical pain management options are available, and specific types of exercise and physical therapy have also been proven to be effective ways to reduce pain.

Arthritis is a serious disease that has tremendous ramifications for our workforce and healthcare system. It causes more activity limitations than heart disease, cancer or diabetes, and nearly one in three people in the U.S. have work constraints because of the disease. The direct and indirect medical costs of this disease are estimated to be roughly $128 billion each year (Arthritis Foundation, 2012). The more knowledge people have about arthritis, the better equipped they will be to seek early treatment and pain management options that can help them live a more full and productive life.

For more information on the various types of arthritis as well as treatment options, visit the Arthritis Foundation’s website.

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