By Brian Acton
May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, a time to focus on a condition that is the top cause of disability in America. More than 50 million American adults have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. With those numbers, the odds are good that you or someone you care about has or will have arthritis. Outside of affecting the health of millions, arthritis has a profound, measurable economic and social impact in the United States. Despite all this, misunderstandings surround arthritis. Whether you’re well educated on arthritis or know virtually nothing, there are many ways to get involved in the fight. Here are five:
1. Educate Yourself Arthritis is actually a group of diseases, with over 100 different types. Over 300,000 children have arthritis or a related rheumatic disease. Arthritis affects about approximately one in four adults. All of these facts are made publicly available by groups like the Arthritis Foundation. But misconceptions still survive. While you don’t need to have a doctor’s grasp of the condition, you will need to know the basics to spread awareness or provide support. The Arthritis Foundation is a great place to start your education, but you can also talk to medical professionals and people you know that are affected by arthritis to begin your education.
2. Make a Donation There are several organizations working to spread awareness, provide resources to people with arthritis, and fund research for a cure. These groups welcome donations that help further their mission. The Arthritis Foundation is one of the highest profile groups, and its work ranges from advocacy at the federal and state government level to organizing local events and the annual Walk to Cure Arthritis. The Arthritis National Research Foundation primarily focuses on research for a cure, and the Arthritis Research and Education Fund supports researchers at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Your dollars can help these groups support people with arthritis and work toward a cure.
3. Join Advocacy Groups Groups like CreakyJoints work to influence state and federal health and regulatory policies that affect those with arthritis. These groups provide a voice for patients and advocate for policies that affect access to treatment, care standards, and other issues. You can join the advocacy networks of national arthritis groups to share your story with media and legislators.
4. Participate in a Fundraising Event There are many national and local events that support arthritis research, including walks, dinners, galas and more. Some events raise funds for general arthritis research, while others specialize in juvenile arthritis, alternative treatments, and other areas of focus. You can participate, donate funds, and even volunteer as a staff member at many of these events.
5. Join a Support Group If you suffer from arthritis, it can be difficult to get others to relate to your experience. Joining a support group can help you get support, bond with people who have similar experiences, and widen your social circle. Attending meetings at a local support group can help you determine if support groups might be a good fit for you. They can also help you connect with local events, advocacy groups, and other activities to join the fight against arthritis. Sources: http://www.arthritis.org/ http://www.arthritis.org/Documents/Sections/About-Arthritis/arthritis-facts-stats-figures.pdf https://creakyjoints.org/advocacy/50-state-network/ http://www.curearthritis.org/