Arthritis Awareness Month

Published: May 14, 2022

Arthritis Awareness Month

May is Arthritis Awareness Month. According to the Arthritis National Research Foundation, more than 58 million Americans are living with arthritis—that’s one in every four adults, and half of all people over the age of 65. Arthritis Awareness Month gives us a chance to stop and consider the large impact of a condition that affects so many people.

Arthritis isn’t a single disease—it’s a term used to describe several conditions, including osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthris and many other health conditions that cause joint pain and stiffness. Here are a few of the most common types of arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of arthritis. It is caused by a breakdown of the cartilage and other tissues of the affected joint. It is often referred to as the “wear and tear” type of arthritis, because it affects weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, and also the smaller joints of the hands and neck.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The body attacks its own joint tissue, causing inflammation and pain throughout the body. People with this disease can feel fine for a period of days or even years, and then have “flare ups” of pain and inflammation.
  • Gout: Gout is caused by a build-up in uric acid in the joints. Gout often begins in the second joint of the big toe, but it occurs in other joints as well. Gout was once called the “disease of kings” because a diet heavy in meat and alcohol can increase uric acid in the body.
  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain, sleeping problems, and fatigue. It is also associated with emotional and mental distress. There is no known cause of fibromyalgia, but research over decades has produced more options for treatment.

There currently is no cure for arthritis, but the pain and inflammation can be treated. These interventions may also help slow the progression of the inflammation and pain. Here are some things that people living with arthritis can do to lessen the impact of the condition:

  • Stay active. Getting plenty of exercise, and the right kind, will help strengthen your muscles and protect the affected joints from further damage. Ask your doctor for ideas if you aren’t sure what is safe exercise for you.
  • Take medication that your doctor recommends to deal with the pain and inflammation. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and aspirin may help with arthritis inflammation. Ask your doctor what is right for your type and severity of arthritis.
  • Explore adaptive devices that could help you with activities of daily living. Walkers and canes help people with mobility challenges get around safely. Other adaptive devices like long-handled shoe horns or Velcro clothing closures might help make daily activities easier—and easier on your joints, as well.

With the right treatment and tools, it is possible to live well with arthritis.

The information in this article is not intended to take the place of your healthcare provider’s advice.