World Arthritis Day: Global Awareness and You

Patient Expert

You are not alone. All over the world, millions of people live with arthritis. This Friday, October 12, is World Arthritis Day - a time for all of us to get together and make our voices heard.

An Introduction to World Arthritis Day

World Arthritis Day is celebrated every year on October 12. It was created in 1996 as an awareness initiative by PARE, the Standing Committee of People with Arthritis/Rheumatism in Europe, the patient voice in EULAR (the European League Against Rheumatism).

World Arthritis Day has three goals: to raise awareness of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, to influence public policy to improve the lives of people with such conditions and to make sure that those who need it are aware of the support networks available. To reach these goals, organizations in more than 50 countries work together with EULAR and PARE to create a vast network of awareness.

In 2012, World Arthritis Day is focused on two particular projects. The first, a continuation of the Move to Improve theme launched last year, is aimed at encouraging people to be more physically active. The second is Waving for World Arthritis Day. The organization is asking everyone across the globe to take photos or videos of themselves and others waving - something fun and easy for everyone to do - and post the images to the World Arthritis Day website or their Facebook page. Their goal is to get images of 100,000 people waving.

World Arthritis Day in the US

Closer to home, The Arthritis Foundation is engaged in a number of activities leading up to World Arthritis Day. I spoke to Dr. Patience White, VP of Public Health with the Foundation to hear more.

"We're excited to be part of a global effort trying to get people and policy makers to act on the burden of arthritis. It's the number one cause of disability in the US and costs our society $128 billion dollars annually," Dr. White said. She emphasized the importance of the Move to Improve theme as beingr physically active can help people with arthritis improve mobility and strength. Tennis Pro Brian Teacher shares his experience of living with severe osteoarthritis since age 34. Teacher uses physical activity to help manage the pain of his condition.

During Arthritis Awareness Month in May of this year, the Foundation released a report called Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity among Adults with Arthritis. This was the beginning of making connections between different sectors to make it easier for people with arthritis to become physically active.

The Foundation is also doing a number of things that people can use to improve their lives. They have just launched their Track+React app to help you track the connections between what you do and how you feel. Being able to pinpoint patterns between what is happening in your life, the medication you take any activities you do can help you better manage your arthritis. Dr. White uses Track+React herself to help her keep on track in meeting goals.

Another Foundation activity that can help you get up and moving is the Jingle Bell Run/Walk, which raises money for research and programs supporting people with arthritis. If you sign up for this event on October 11 or 12th, you will receive a gift from The Arthritis Foundation Our own Health Guide Brad is very active in the Jingle Bell Run in South Carolina! If you'd like to become more physically active, The Arthritis Foundation website can help through programs and information, such as their Walk with Ease starter kit.

How You Can Raise Awareness for World Arthritis Day

Do you want to be part of the global effort to raise awareness for arthritis? You have a number of options to choose from:

Take a picture or video of you and your family and friends waving for arthritis and post it to the World Arthritis Day website or Facebook page.

Join the RAHealthCentral RA2day awareness campaign! Take a photo of what your RA looks like today - the good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly - and post it on our Facebook page or on Twitter with the hashtag #RA2day.

Check the World Arthritis Day events calendar for activities in your area. One of those activities is bound to be the Jingle Bell Run - why don't you join Brad and sign up?

Write your representative about the importance of programs to support people who live with arthritis. One of these is the Patient's Access to Medication Act, which aims to provide better financial support for expensive medications, such as the Biologics. Ask your Member of Congress to support this bill.

Together we can raise awareness about arthritis!

Lene is the author of the award-winning blog The Seated View.