Another major driving force behind the World Arthritis Day is the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Campaign. This campaign, aptly termed ‘Don’t Delay, Connect Today’ was launched in 2017, continued in 2018 and will continue this year too. The 2019 Theme of the EULAR Campaign is

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‘World Arthritis Day is celebrated annually on 12th October and aims to generate awareness about the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of arthritis. Lifestyle modification could reduce symptoms and prevent complications.’
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The campaign aims to create awareness among the general public, health professionals, decision makers, policymakers, and other stakeholders so that arthritis is given priority in the health agenda. The campaign also highlights the importance of early diagnosis in preventing further damage to those living with arthritis, and to encourage timely access to evidence-based treatment.

Arthritis: A Historical Perspective

The history of arthritis is very long and goes back to prehistoric times. Detailed fossil records have clearly shown that even dinosaurs suffered from arthritis. It was also present in prehistoric humans, such as Neanderthals. In the civilized world, arthritis has been reported as far back as 4,500 BC. Evidence of arthritis and other bone deformities has been detected in Egyptian mummies by modern imaging techniques. The condition was first closely studied and described by Dr. William Musgrave, the noted British physician and antiquary, in his book De Arthritide Symptomatica, which was published in 1715.

Arthritis: Facts & Figures

  • 350 million people suffer from arthritis worldwide
  • Arthritis primarily occurs after 65 years of age, although 30 percent of patients are below this age
  • 50 million (1 in 5) people worldwide have a confirmed diagnosis of arthritis
  • 67 million people will have a confirmed diagnosis of arthritis by 2030
  • 23 million arthritis patients worldwide cannot carry out daily activities – standing, bending, walking, and climbing stairs
  • 300,000 infants and children (1 in 250) suffer from arthritic conditions worldwide
  • Arthritis accounts for the following annually worldwide:
    • 44 million outpatient visits
    • 1 million hospitalizations
    • USD 156 billion in lost wages and medical expenses
  • 15 percent or 180 million Indians suffer from arthritis
  • Arthritis patients fail to retain their jobs within 10 years of disease onset
  • Osteoarthritis is one of 10 most disabling diseases
  • 9.6 percent of men and 18 percent of women above 60 years suffer from osteoarthritis
  • Arthritis is more common in women (26%) than in men (18%)

Ways to Celebrate World Arthritis Day

World Arthritis Day can be celebrated through various events and activities to generate awareness about this condition. Some of these are highlighted below:

  • Knowledge Dissemination: Information on arthritis can be disseminated by distributing pamphlets and leaflets at prominent public places such as parks, bus stands, markets, train stations, and shopping malls.
  • Public Lectures: Popular lectures by renowned rheumatologists, targeting the general audience are very effective ways of communicating with the public. These lectures help them to understand the complications of arthritis and the importance of seeking timely medical help
  • Arthritis Day ‘Walkathons’: Awareness can be created by organizing ‘walkathons’ to spread the message through banners and placards, as well as raise funds for arthritis patients through sponsorships
  • Networking: Setting up a network that includes families of arthritis patients, physicians, researchers, government officials, NGOs, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders can lead to the development and implementation of solutions for the benefit of arthritis patients
  • Real Life Stories: These provide first-hand experiences from arthritis sufferers that can enlighten others and encourage them to do something for people living with arthritis
  • Social Media Campaigns: This is a very powerful medium for reaching the public in the shortest possible time. It can be used for posting information, sharing stories, photos, and videos on the topic of arthritis on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Twitter hashtag is #WorldArthritisDay
  • Wearing ‘Blue’: The awareness color for World Arthritis Day is ‘Blue’. So by wearing ‘Blue’, such as blue colored wrist bands, ribbons, lapel pins, caps, T-shirts, and other apparel will show support for people suffering from arthritis. It will also raise funds from the sales proceedings for helping economically deprived patients

Health Tips for Coping with Arthritis

Although arthritis is a highly debilitating disease, it is possible to manage and cope with it by making healthy lifestyle choices. The following aspects, highlighted below are particularly important:

  • Smoking: Smokers should quit as soon as possible as smoking can aggravate the condition
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption should be avoided at all costs as it is very harmful to the body, especially if consumed regularly and in excess amounts
  • Diet: A balanced, nutritious and healthy diet is important for arthritis patients. The diet should be rich in whole grains, proteins, green vegetables, and fruits but low in salt, sugar, and fat.
  • Hydration: It is important to keep well hydrated. This will ensure optimal metabolic functions
  • Stress: Stress can be managed by practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, massage and listening to relaxing music
  • Sleep: Getting adequate sleep is important for maintaining optimal health. Approximately 6-7 hours of sleep is recommended. This will help to maintain mental and physical wellbeing and increase the quality of life
  • Medical Check-Up: Regular health check-ups are important for detecting the disease at an early stage, so that appropriate therapeutic interventions can be instituted in a timely manner
  • Physical Activity: Leading an active lifestyle is very important for keeping fit. Specific types of exercises can also be helpful for arthritis patients, including the following:
    • Resistance Exercises: These exercises are recommended for increasing muscle strength and stability of joints
    • Aerobic Exercises: These exercises help to increase stamina and endurance, as well as elevate mood
    • Flexibility Exercises: These exercises help to maintain balance and increase coordination and mobility at the joints, thereby increasing the range of movements

So, on World Arthritis Day, let us renew our commitment to help those who have arthritis and associated rheumatic diseases. A collective effort from all quarters, including rheumatologists, researchers, health professionals, policymakers, and NGOs, among others, could make a real difference to the lives of arthritis patients and their families.

References :

  1. Don’t Delay, Connect Today – European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR)(https://www.eular.org/eular_campaign.cfm)
  2. World Arthritis Day 2019: Time2Work – National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS)(https://www.nras.org.uk/worldarthritisday)
  3. Arthritis Fact Sheet – Alpha Omicron Pi(https://www.alphaomicronpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Arthritis-Fact-Sheet-Update-May-2019.pdf)

Source: Medindia

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