It’s a pain that might creep up slowly with a dull, mild discomfort in your joints. Or it might rage suddenly without warning, bringing on a stabbing intensity as sharp as a knife. The pain might come and go, or it may last hours. This pain is arthritis, and it’s likely you know someone living with it.
Arthritis impacts more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the U.S. According to The Arthritis Foundation, the number of people affected by the condition is expected to increase to 67 million by 2030. More research is needed to combat this health crisis, a disease and source of chronic pain for so many people that it is often marginalized by misinformed attitudes, old wise tales, and social stigma.
May is National Arthritis Month. Now is an ideal time to gain a greater understanding of arthritis, its symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and the supportive, instructive community accessible online.
Arthritis includes more than 100 different types of joint disease and related conditions. I have written previously about osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile arthritis. In the most basic terms, arthritis is inflammation of the joints that causes swelling, stiffness, reduced range of motion, and pain that can become chronic. It can affect your ankles and toes, back, hip, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, or neck. The heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin can sometimes also be impacted.
Arthritis can also affect your muscles, resulting in muscle weakness or fatigue. The extra weight from obesity can strain your joints if you are not eating well and exercising regularly.
Many people dismiss arthritis as a condition of older adulthood, but arthritis can strike any age, gender or race, and it is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Where Can I Learn More?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a wealth of information about arthritis. Here are a few valuable links:
Blogs are a great resource for educating yourself about arthritis. Many people living with the disease generously share their stories. A few that I recommend include:
Part of the nonprofit Global Healthy Living Foundation, this creation by an arthritis patient and a social entrepreneur offers a robust and growing online patient community providing meaningful support, education, innovative advocacy and global research updates for those living with the disease and their families.
Leslie Vandever, a frequent contributor to RheumatoidArthritis.net, has been sharing her personal journey living with arthritis since 2009.
Voted the 2017 Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog by Healthline, this blogger lives with multiple conditions and writes in-depth about her diagnoses and medications, as well as healthy pain-fighting recipes.
President of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, Kelly O’Neill Young brings you arthritis information that’s easy to understand, strategies to manage the disease, and tackles topics like “What’s this symptom?” or “How do I cope?”
Diagnosed with early Rheumatoid Arthritis in her thirties, Vancouver-based writer and poet J.G. Chayko developed her blog to create awareness that arthritis is not a disease just for the elderly.
Do you ever wonder what your child’s life will be like after they grow up with juvenile arthritis? Diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at 13 months, Stefanie Larsen helps other young adults navigate the usual transitional life events, such as marriage and starting a family, when those transitions are complicated by JIA.
Written by a board-certified rheumatologist, this blogger discusses food, nutrition, exercise, and healthy habits for those living with arthritis.
Owned and operated by Alliance Health, this social network empowers people living with arthritis and connects members to support communities for a growing number of health conditions.
The official blog of the Arthritis Foundation, this resource covers a variety of topics, including natural therapies, nutrition, pain management, symptom management, exercise and surgery.
Dina Neils did not let two hip replacements stop her from qualifying for the USA Triathlon National Championship and completing the race with a personal best record in 2015. With her blog, she creates awareness and inspiration “for those battling adversity to pursue their dreams and not allow a medical diagnosis to detour them.”
Diane Talbert offers a unique perspective of a woman of color living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Her mission: “I want people to know they are not alone in this; I just want to get the word out.”
Remember, no one is immune to pain but together we can overcome it.