There are numerous misconceptions about the disease arthritis. Some think its a condition affecting only older people. Others are under the impression that its more of a nuisance rather than an often debilitating ailment. For as ubiquitous as the term “arthritis” is, there still exists a tangible knowledge gap regarding its prevalence and the effects that it has on those afflicted.
To address these stereotypes and narrow said knowledge gap, The Arthritis Foundation made the theme of last month's Arthritis Awareness Month “Faces of Arthritis.” The goal of the campaign, as the name suggests, was simple: to educate and raise awareness that arthritis does not discriminate and nobody is immune.
The facts are:
- Arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability; a more frequent cause of activity limitations than heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
- One in every five American adults has doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
- Kids get arthritis, too with over 300,000 living with the disease.
- Arthritis costs $128 billion annually in medical care and other costs.
- There are over 100 types of arthritis.
- Arthritis destroys joints, bones and other connective tissues.
- Arthritis robs people of their quality of life.
- Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65
However, to many in the modern fast-paced, data-driven, instant gratification-based world, these statistics simply do not make the impact they should. We need visuals. We need names and faces. Faces such as Margo Deihl, Seamus Mullen, Taylor Lucas, Tabitha Armstrong, Ryland Bristlow, Jennifer Ray, Cole Donelan, Eric Hill, and Abbigale and Jeffrey Wright.
Great strides were made by arthritis advocates last month. In fact, over 1,350 letters were sent to 330 legislators stressing the value of arthritis research funding and the importance of access to pediatric rheumatologists. As a result, several Representatives submitted formal requests for support of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Arthritis Program and letters were submitted to the Appropriations Committee in support of the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program.
The “Faces of Arthritis” campaign was an important milestone in the fight against arthritis, but it was a milestone on a still very long road ahead. We need to maintain the momentum of last month, continue to support research funding, continue to build awareness and not lose sight of the long term goal even as we acknowledge the critical small steps.
Please visit The Arthritis Foundation's Advocacy Page to learn how you too can be a part of this momentum.