Updated: Nov 8, 2020
October 12th is World Arthritis Day
Many may not know this, but occupational therapists play a key role in prevention, education, and intervention for this condition that affects children and adults around the world. I am an advocate for those who have any form of arthritis, as it is a condition that has affected me for the entirety of my young adulthood and will continue to affect me for the rest of my life. The purpose of today's post is to raise awareness and to encourage others to share their stories about how arthritis has affected their lives-whether it is related to yourself, a family member, or a close friend.
There are so many types of arthritis & they can affect more than just your joints.
Arthritis is an informal way of referring to more than 100 types of joint diseases that can affect any individual at any age, yes, even small children can have it!
Some types consist of Ankylosing Spondylitis, Inflammatory Arthritis, Juvenile Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Osteoarthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and the list goes on.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States
It can be difficult to understand arthritis pain and fatigue (two of the most common and troublesome symptoms of arthritis).
In my experience and observations, I have noticed that arthritis symptoms can often be minimized by friends, family, and among other individuals. I have found that by sharing my story, I have been able to educate others about the real-life implications that arthritis has had on my life and the lives of millions of people around the world. Many organizations around the world, such as The Arthritis Foundation seek to end stigma surrounding arthritis by providing education and support for those diagnosed and their families. The more we talk about it and share stories, the more people will understand that it is not a condition to be taken lightly.
Arthritis is no joke. I have known children who have had to take off a year or more from school to get intense treatments for conditions such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). I have known adult friends who have had to discontinue working or have a change in career due to the chronic pain that often comes along with a diagnosis of arthritis. In my experience, I have had people who told me that I could never become an occupational therapist. I have had to plan extra time in my day to use methods to loosen up my joints in the morning and to take naps to rest after a long day due to chronic fatigue. The reality is that arthritis is a serious condition and we need to empower ourselves, our families, and our clients to feel that they are cared about and supported.
If you know someone with any form of arthritis, be there for them. Make sure that they feel validated and let them know that there are resources and support. If you have arthritis, just know that you are not alone. Many days can be a struggle, but we have to continue to educate others and advocate for health services such as occupational therapy that can increase the quality of life for those experiencing arthritis.
Happy World Arthritis Day!
For more information and support please visit https://www.arthritis.org. I encourage you to post a comment below, if you have a story to share about arthritis. Thank you!