The World Arthritis Day is observed on October 12 each year to raise global awareness on arthritis, rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletal conditions. Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 diseases including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
The theme for World Arthritis Day 2015 is 'It's in your hands, take action'. The aim is to encourage people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) to take action and make a difference to their quality of life with the help of healthcare professionals, policy makers, researchers and the general public.
AdvertisementThe World Arthritis Day was first observed in 1996 by an organization called Arthritis and Rheumatism International (ARI) to raise awareness of the condition and to encourage policymakers to help reduce the burden of people suffering from arthritis. In recent years, the day has been championed by the European League against Rheumatism (EULAR). It has now become a worldwide event that brings together arthritis sufferers to get their voices heard.
The aims of World Arthritis Day include-
- Raising awareness of arthritis in the medical community, people with arthritis and the general public
- Making public policymakers aware of the burden of arthritis and the steps which can be taken to ease it
- Ensuring all people with arthritis and their caregivers are aware of the support network available to them.
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Arthritis can make it difficult for people to do their day-to-day activities and participate in their communities. But, there are effective treatments and strategies to improve their quality of life, reduce arthritis symptoms, and reduce disability.
What Causes Arthritis?
- Hereditary- In some cases, arthritis can be hereditary. However, having a family history of arthritis does not mean that an individual will inevitably get a rheumatic or musculoskeletal disease.
- Lifestyle factors- Arthritis can also be triggered by lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, increasing age and engaging in activities or occupations that lead to injury and overuse of joints or muscles.
- Unknown factors- In some cases the causes of arthritis are unknown.
- Inflammation of the joint indicated by swelling, stiffness, redness and warmth
- Continuous muscle and joint pain
- Tenderness in the joint
- Fatigue, weakness or a feeling of general discomfort
- Restricted movements
- Visible joint deformity
Knowing the symptoms and getting them assessed by a physician or preferably a rheumatologist is the first step in managing any disease. Arthritis treatment typically focuses on managing the condition to ensure the best possible quality of life.
- Medication- Early medical treatment, particularly in the first 12 weeks, can prevent joint and organ damage, and improve long term function. There is no single medication or treatment that works for every arthritis sufferer. Treatment and medication that help manage pain and control the symptoms are usually prescribed.
- Physical therapy- Physiotherapy is often advised to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and improve the range of motion in arthritis patients.
- Self management- It is a key part of managing arthritis and can be life-changing for most people. Self management involves taking control of living with arthritis and encouraging a positive attitude whereby a person accepts that the condition affects them but does not control them. This is crucial for emotional and physical wellbeing. Also, support from local patient groups and organizations can help people manage their arthritis.
Talking to a Health Care Provider
Seeking appropriate medical care helps manage pain, inflammation and prevents potential disability. Discussing the symptoms with a health care professional and attending regular appointments can benefit people with arthritis.
Being Physically Active
Both aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises help to reduce pain and improve functional limitations associated with arthritis. Studies have shown that participating in moderate intensity and low impact physical activities such as walking, swimming, biking, and water aerobics are safe for most adults with arthritis.
Obesity is common among people with arthritis. It leads to arthritis related disease progression, activity limitation, disability and reduced quality of life. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can improve pain and function.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is very important for people with arthritis. Some food items can react with medications. Limit you intake of salt and sugar. Excessive salt has been associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis while too much sugar adds calories to the diet. Discuss dietary concerns with healthcare providers or nutritionists.
Joining Self Management Education Classes
Self management education classes help people develop skills to manage their arthritis more effectively. Studies have proven that these programs enhance physical activity and build an individual's confidence in making healthy lifestyle changes. This helps them to do household and social activities, and also decreases depression and anxiety.