May is National Arthritis Month, a time dedicated to spreading awareness about arthritis and highlighting available resources.

Did you know that arthritis is actually the number one cause of disability in the United States, impacting over 50 million people? Many myths and misunderstandings exist about this condition despite how common it is.

 

History of National Arthritis Month

In 1972, Congress and President Richard M. Nixon, along with the recommendation of the Arthritis Foundation, officially designated May as National Arthritis Month. This month emphasizes the importance of research, service, and education related to arthritis while raising funds to help those affected. Throughout the years, National Arthritis Month has been all about spreading awareness and getting the public involved in supporting this cause.

 

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis isn’t just one disease—it encompasses over 100 different joint conditions. The most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear on your joint’s cartilage, while rheumatoid arthritis happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the membranes around your joints. Both types can lead to pain, swelling, and limited range of motion, making everyday activities a bit more challenging.

 

Debunking Arthritis Myths

Even though arthritis is a common condition, misconceptions about it can prevent individuals from getting the help they need to manage their pain. Let’s break down four myths about this disease.

Myth #1: There is No Treatment for Arthritis

While there is currently no cure for arthritis, effective treatments are available to help manage symptoms and enhance quality of life. Treatment plans often involve a combination of medications, physical therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and, in some cases, surgery. Early diagnosis and intervention play a key role in effectively managing arthritis.

Myth #2: All Joint Pain is Arthritis

Joint pain is often linked to arthritis, but it’s not always true. Joint pain can stem from injuries, infections, tendinitis, or bursitisGetting a proper diagnosis from a healthcare provider for the right treatment is critical. Remember, not all joint pain is arthritis. Stay informed and take care of your joints!

Myth #3: Arthritis Only Affects Older People

While the risk of developing arthritis does increase with age, it is not exclusive to older adults. Arthritis can affect people of all ages, including children. Juvenile arthritis, also known as pediatric rheumatic disease, is a term used to describe the various autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that develop in children under 16.

Myth #4: People with Arthritis Should Not Exercise

Actually, exercise is often recommended for people with arthritis! It can help maintain joint function, alleviate stiffness, and decrease pain. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, and yoga are often recommended. We always advise consulting your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine to ensure it is safe and beneficial for your condition.

 

Tips for Managing Arthritis Symptoms

Managing arthritis symptoms is all about finding what works best for you. Here are some suggestions that may help alleviate your symptoms and promote better joint health:

Consult With Your Doctor

Consult your doctor to create a personalized treatment plan tailored to your arthritis’s type and severity. Your doctor may recommend medications to reduce inflammation and pain and offer advice on lifestyle adjustments.

Exercise

Regular physical activity is key for keeping your joints healthy. Low-impact exercises like yoga and swimming are gentle on the joints while providing a good workout. Consistent exercise can help decrease stiffness, improve flexibility, and enhance overall well-being.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can assist you in developing an exercise program tailored to boost your flexibility and mobility. Additionally, physical therapy can teach you how to utilize assistive devices and modify your daily activities to minimize strain on your joints.

Nutritional Supplements

Certain supplements, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids, may relieve arthritis symptoms. However, it’s important to consult your doctor before incorporating new supplements. Your doctor can guide you on the safety and effectiveness of these supplements based on your unique circumstances.

 

 

Let’s Raise Awareness

Arthritis Awareness Month is an excellent chance to debunk myths and share reliable information about this common condition. By knowing the facts and finding the proper treatment, people with arthritis can live active, satisfying lives. Remember to talk to healthcare pros to create a plan that works for you. 

If you’re interested in getting more involved and spreading awareness about arthritis this month, take a look at the Arthritis Foundation’s free downloadable images. You can share them on your social media pages using the hashtag #ArthritisAwarenessMonth to show your support.

Knowledge is key! Let’s use this month to raise awareness, support those dealing with arthritis, and help create healthier, more knowledgeable communities.

 

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Resource links:

Arthritis Foundation – About Arthritis 

Osteoarthritis Action Alliance – Arthritis Awareness Month

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Stanford Medicine – Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Cedars Sinai – Bursitis and Tendinitis

CDC – Disability and Health: Arthritis 

Mayo Clinic – Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hopkins Medicine – Arthritis 

CDC – Arthritis: Physical Activity

Lifestyle Changes for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis Foundation

Arthritis Foundation – Arthritis Awareness Month Social Posts