Celebrate arthritis awareness month this may online electricity bill payment

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Arthritis is an umbrella term that includes gout, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and more than 100 other diseases characterized by joint pain and stiffness symptoms. This May during Arthritis Awareness Month, take time to celebrate your courage and perseverance in living each day to the fullest despite your arthritis and arthritis symptoms. You can mark the month with ABC (and D).

Arthritis is a lifelong, chronic disease that is manageable, though not curable. Work with your healthcare team to design a management strategy that targets your personal goals. One way to track how your treatment is working is to use the free app ArthritisPower on your phone. You can quickly and easily quantify aspects of arthritis that affect your quality of life, such as pain and fatigue, but that are less apparent from blood work alone. Do it while waiting for the pasta water to boil or during a commercial break. Over time, you’ll learn a lot about how your symptoms are responding based on the management strategy you and your doctor developed together.

Arthritis is not a defining characteristic. It’s one aspect of your life. Seek support, learn about your illness, and then educate your support network. Your support network is bigger than you may think. It includes your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, and others whom you interact with regularly. You can raise awareness about arthritis by sharing all the things you do even though you’re living with it. You can also share about how and when arthritis may cause you to ask for help. Make your experience honest and relatable to others.

Finding community is a great way to feel ready to make decisions about your arthritis. There are many hospitals and community centers that offer local support groups for people living with arthritis. Your doctor may be able to refer you to such a group. In addition, online groups like CreakyJoints offer ways to engage with the arthritis community through monthly Twitter chats, educational webinars, and opportunities to participate in research.

You have the ability to put yourself at the center of your arthritis care. Every visit to your healthcare provider is an opportunity to ask questions and express preferences. It’s okay to ask about different treatment options or whether adding a complementary therapy ( such as yoga) might benefit your care. Write down your concerns, and make sure to prioritize what you most need to discuss, as doctor visits often progress very quickly.

It’s challenging to live with a lifelong chronic disease like arthritis. But because more than 22 percent of American adults live with some form of doctor-diagnosed arthritis, you are certainly not alone. Here are some ways to help raise awareness of arthritis:

• Talk to family and friends about how arthritis affects your life. Be honest; share your feelings about the good days and bad days• Find community. Join a walk or engage in a fun activity, inside or out. Walk around the mall on a rainy day and try mini golf on a sunny day.• Participate in a #CreakyChat to find others living well with arthritis• Attend a local support group

• Set new goals, but make them realistic and practical. You can track your progress toward your goals, even those related to diet and exercise, in ArthritisPower, for example. What can you do today, next week, and next month?• Say to yourself “I CAN!”• Say to yourself “I WILL!”

Shilpa Venkatachalam, PhD, is the associate director of patient-centered research at CreakyJoints. CreakyJoints®, founded in 1999, is the go-to source for millions of arthritis patients and their families worldwide who are seeking education, support, advocacy, and patient-centered research. CreakyJoints is part of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for people with chronic illness. For more information and to become a member (for free), visit CreakyJoints.org. To participate in research, go to ArthritisPower.org

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