Tag Archives: Arthritis Society

March is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month!

Did you know that March is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month? I have mentioned here before that Kids Get Arthritis Too.  I have also posted about how important it is, especially for rheumatoid arthritis, to get diagnosed early.  But did you also know that the same is true for kids?

As part of its awareness campaign for Juvenile Arthritis, the Arthritis Society has shared this information about a study by the Canadian Alliance of Pediatric Rheumatology Investigators (CAPRI), which found that children will see at least three health practitioners and wait four to five months after their symptoms begin before being correctly diagnosed and receiving optimal care.  One of the reasons is thought to be the overall lack of awareness that kids can get arthritis too.

Other interesting facts about JA from the Arthritis Society: JA is one of the more common disorders resulting in chronic disability in children and adolescents in Canada.  Altogether, approximately 61,500 Canadian toddlers, youths and young adults live with the intense pain and disability of arthritis. That’s at least one case for every school.

For more information about symptoms and treatment, visit here.  And to read stories from families of kids living with arthritis, you can visit this Facebook page, and click “Like” to spread the word.

Cheers 🙂

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Yes, osteoarthritis can happen to you too!

Did you know that sports injuries can contribute to osteoarthritis, particularly when we don’t take the time to let them heal?  Referred to as secondary osteoarthritis, it creeps up in joints that have been damaged by a previous injury.  It’s common in professional athletes (such as hockey and football players), but it can happen in anyone.

Although it’s important to remember that exercise and activity is good for us, we do need to take care of ourselves.  This Arthritis Society video tells the stories of two ordinary people who learned through experience how osteoarthritis can develop from sports injuries that aren’t fully treated.  For all my hockey peeps out there, I’m talking to you too!  If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?

Cheers 🙂

Rock versus hard place

In my last post, I talked about different treatment options that can help to slow, or even stop, the damage caused by certain types of arthritis.  These therapies can make a huge difference in the lives of people with arthritis, but did you know that the side effects also pack a mean punch?  This is week five of ‘things you might not know about arthritis’.

One of the last medications that my mom tried was methotrexate, which is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) that can be taken either as a pill or by injection.  Methotrexate is only taken once a week, and doctors recommend that it be taken on a “less demanding day” because some people feel unwell for up to 24-48 hours after taking it — such as headaches, feeling tired, nausea, or loss of appetite.  Additional effects are numerous, although rare, and include everything from increased sun sensitivity to hair loss to liver damage.

My mom didn’t talk to me very much about her medication, and to be honest, I rarely asked.  We lived 350 km apart, and so I didn’t see her day-to-day struggles first hand.  When we spoke, she wanted to talk about happier things.  We only started to talk about methotrexate after she started to experience a host of other health complications that landed her in the hospital for her 61st birthday.  Her problems were ultimately chalked up to an inappropriate combination of meds that threw her blood counts into complete disarray and caused her to feel terrible all the time, all of which happened after her doctor increased her dosage of methotrexate to help address the progression of her rheumatoid arthritis.  She eventually got things sorted out, but only after months of juggling pills and feeling awful — awful from the side effects of her meds, and awful from the pain and inflammation of RA while she waited for the meds to do their job.  Rock, meet hard place.

I know this doesn’t reflect everyone’s experience.  I also have no doubt that methotrexate would have helped my mom much more if it had been available earlier in her life.  Nevertheless, it speaks volumes to me that this treatment is one of the best options available, given what she had to go through to make it work.  It may well be effective, but at a cost.  And it isn’t as easy as just remembering to take a few pills.

I wish I had asked more questions and showed more compassion.  I wish she had told me more, so that I could have shaken off the assumptions I carried for many years just because they were never challenged.  But I understand better now, and I hope you do too.  Cheers.

Hurry up and wait!

I’m late! Indeed, I am overdue in delivering week four of ‘things you might not know’!  This won’t actually shock anyone who knows me.  I’m always late paying parking tickets, and it’s virtually guaranteed that I will never return a library book on time.  I’m also behind on my running program, but that’s a story for another day.  Alas, this week, you’ll get back-to-back posts to make up for my tardiness.

Sometimes, it really doesn’t pay to be late, particularly when it comes to being diagnosed with arthritis. I have mentioned here before, inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) needs to be treated early and aggressively.  But did you know that some of the most effective medications can take weeks or even months to show results, and multiple medications might be needed to control the disease?  Here’s a great analogy from an Arthritis Society publication:

“Think of arthritis like a fire in the joints.  Imagine there was a fire in your kitchen. If you left it burning, it would eventually destroy the kitchen and likely spread to other rooms in the house. The same is true for rheumatoid arthritis. If you leave the fire of arthritis burning, it will eventually damage the bones and cartilage. The idea is to get the fire put out as quickly as possible to prevent the joints from becoming damaged. Again, if your kitchen was on fire, it might take two or three fire trucks with their hoses to put the fire out. The same is true for arthritis. It might take two or three different medications to put the fire out.”

There are many promising treatments available that can slow, or sometimes even stop, the progression of the disease.  Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are a class of medications used to treat inflammatory types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. DMARDs slow down the biologic processes that cause the persistent inflammation (pain, swelling and stiffness) in the joints. DMARDs are important because they help to prevent damage to the joint.  (Unfortunately, DMARDs cannot fix joint damage that has already occurred.)  The challenge is, DMARDs generally work well but they take time to work. Most DMARDs will start to work in about six to 12 weeks, but some may take longer – up to three or four months.

Likewise, biologics are a class of medications specially designed to treat inflammatory types of arthritis.  Like DMARDs, biologics are used to suppress inflammation and help prevent damage to the joint, and the two can be combined.  But biologics also take time to work. Some people may notice the effects of the medication  within days or weeks, but others may take three to six months to feel the effects.

Six months is a long time to wait if your house is on fire.  That’s why early diagnosis and treatment is so important.  It’s also why continued research into arthritis treatment is necessary, hopefully to develop new treatment options that will work faster, to help minimize the amount of permanent damage that people suffer.

Thanks for reading.  Stay tuned for the next instalment.  I won’t make you wait so long this time 🙂

Did you know? Kids get arthritis too!

Welcome to week two of ‘things you might not know about arthritis‘!

Did you know that arthritis isn’t just an ‘old person’s disease’.  According to the Arthritis Society, arthritis is one of the most common chronic illnesses affecting children and affects 1 in 1,000 Canadian children under the age of 16.  That’s a lot of kids.

Kids with arthritis face unique challenges compared to adults.  This story describes some of those challenges, including the very real problem that some people don’t believe kids when they say they have arthritis. It also describes an awesome summer camp organized by the Arthritis Society, where kids spend time with other kids just like them who are learning to manage the disease.

In this video, Amanda describes some of the treatment that kids like her go through.

And in this video, you can learn more about how kids’ lives are affected by living with arthritis, in their own words – which are more powerful than anything I could write. It’s worth taking a few moments to watch, and to remember that arthritis affects more people than we realize – both young and old, and in between.  They all need your support.

That’s it for this week.  Check back next week – you might learn something new!

I couldn’t have said it better myself

Here’s an interesting video from the Arthritis Society, with stories told by people who are directly affected by arthritis.  Definitely worth watching.

So what exactly am I doing?

Here’s a little snippet that tells you more about it.