These and other stigmas surrounding arthritis have far-reaching implications for all Canadians, including costing the economy almost $33 billion.
“Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in the country,” said Joanne Simons, Executive Director of The Arthritis Society, Ontario division. “With September being Arthritis Awareness Month, our goal is to bring the common misperceptions about arthritis to the forefront, so that Canadians better understand the disease and seek treatment and support. Arthritis is not just aches and pains; it is not just an inevitable part of getting older.”
Brittany Cook, 19, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 11.
“When I was first diagnosed, it was because of pain in my legs. Since I was so young it was brushed off and diagnosed as growing pains,” said Cook. “The pain never went away and it was only after going to see a specialist three years later that they diagnosed me with arthritis.”
A biomedical physics student at Laurentian University, Cook has chosen to study medicine as a result of her arthritis and would like to work with children who have chronic conditions.
“People who do not consider joint pain a health priority are at risk of developing life-altering symptoms down the road, including severe pain and inflammation, fatigue, joint damage, loss of mobility, potential surgery, physical and emotional fatigue and possible psychological effects,” said Janet Yale, president and CEO of The Arthritis Society.
The poll results are concerning, because the disease not only puts people living with arthritis at risk, it has far-reaching socio-economic implications for all Canadians, said the Arthritis Society. The poll was conducted by Ipsos Reid.
This September, the Arthritis Society is launching what it is calling the ultimate go-to resource for Canadians – a new website: www.arthritis.ca. It offers visitors customized information on types of arthritis, options for treatment and advice from experts.
Some of the unique features of the website include a portal providing access to tips on living well and invitations to educational and community events; a large collection of online educational presentations and resources to help users manage daily activities and take charge of their disease; and engaging discussion boards, empowering users to connect and create their own discussion topics and private groups.