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Arthritis in spotlight this month

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Arthritis affects more Canadians than any other chronic condition, yet is it is simply not understood well enough or taken seriously.

Unlike other diseases, arthritis is not believed to be life-altering. The Arthritis Society wants to change that perception.

The numbers are alarming. Today, more than six million people in Canada are living with arthritis—that's 1-in-5—and in just over 15 years, those numbers will grow by another 2.5 million people.

Arthritis is a disease that swells and stiffens the moveable joints in the body and can cause irreversible damage. The inflammation it causes also can affect internal organs and eyesight, and can contribute to pre-mature death.

There is no cure and for many types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis (the most common form), there are not enough effective drug therapies to manage the symptoms.

This means people live in pain, often severe, and are limited or disabled in their ability to go about day-to-day living.

According to a recent report developed by the Arthritis Community Research Evaluation Unit (ACREU) for the Arthritis Society, people living with arthritis are more likely to battle with pain, poor mental and physical health, and an inability to stay employed.

Quite simply, Canadians—those who might be prone to arthritis and those who already may have been diagnosed—need to better understand the consequences of having the disease and be more proactive in their health management.

To help address this problem, the Arthritis Society is unveiling two new major patient resources available at arthritis.ca

Firstly, Canadians are encouraged to take the “Symptom Checker” to validate if they may have the disease and then to consult their physician.

Secondly, for those experiencing the disease, the new Self-Advocacy Guide, to be released later in September, will seek to help people with arthritis learn how to be their own arthritis champion when working with their health-care provider.

“Self-advocacy is an important part of the patient journey,” said Janet Yale, president and CEO of the Arthritis Society.

"We want people to be aware that they may have arthritis and they don't even know it yet.

“Our innovative patient resources have been developed with the input of experts in the field to help Canadians better understand this disease, and what they can do to help themselves before and after a visit with their doctor,” she noted.

Visit arthritis.ca or follow the Arthritis Society on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn throughout Arthritis Awareness Month this September, and all year long, for more announcements.

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