May Is Arthritis Awareness Month
According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis causes more disability in the United States than any other disease, illness, or injury. With one out of every five adults affected, as well as more than 300,000 children, the month of May has been declared National Arthritis Awareness Month to bring attention to this debilitating condition.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term for joint disease or pain, and it encompasses more than 100 different conditions. Although anyone can have arthritis, it’s seen most often in women and aging adults. Juvenile Arthritis affects children of all ages.
The most common form is Osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative type that can develop when cartilage wears down, causing joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. The risk factors are injuries, excess weight, age, and family history.
Inflammatory Arthritis, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, can develop when a person’s immune system generates too much inflammation, possibly as a result of environmental and genetic factors. Joint inflammation can also be triggered by infections, food poisoning, or STDs. Although these types of Infectious Arthritis can often be cleared by antibiotics, some cases lead to chronic arthritis.
Metabolic Arthritis is caused by an excess of uric acid crystals in the joints, which can occur with Gout. Uric acid is a natural by-product of our bodies breaking down purines in our food and cells, but too much of it can cause sudden joint pain.
The effects of arthritis can range from mild to severe, and they can get progressively worse, stay the same, or even come and go. Symptoms can include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. Severe cases can lead to chronic pain and the inability to perform activities of daily living, such as writing, getting dressed, and even walking or climbing stairs.
There are many treatments available for arthritis, depending on the severity. Staying physically active and at a healthy weight can help maintain a person’s mobility and joint function. In some cases, physical therapy, medications and/or joint replacement surgery may be required.
During National Arthritis Awareness Month, the Arthritis Foundation aims to encourage people to learn more about the effects of joint diseases. Their Walk to Cure Arthritis encourages participants to be physically active while also raising money to support arthritis advocacy and research.