Arthritis affects 4.6 million Canadians and is the leading cause of chronic pain and physical disability in Canada. It can make daily activities—opening a door, walking up stairs or even getting dressed —extremely difficult or impossible. Arthritis can affect a single joint, multiple joints, or it can be an autoimmune (inflammatory) disease that attacks the whole body, including internal organs such as the eyes, kidney, heart and lungs.
Within a generation (30 years) the number of Canadians living with arthritis is expected to more than double due to an aging population, longevity and obesity.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis. The most common type is called osteoarthritis, causing more than 80% of hip and knee joint replacement surgeries. Inflammatory forms of the disease, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, can cause the destruction of joints and soft tissues around the joints causing pain, disability, significant lost quality of life, and even an early death.
Arthritis is vastly misunderstood. Many perceive it as an “older person’s disease.” In fact, arthritis affects people of all ages. More than 60% of Canadians with arthritis are under age 65. And, to many people’s surprise, one in 800 children in Canada have some form of arthritis.
Recognizing Symptoms of Arthritis
For many of the 100 different types of arthritis, there are common signs (things your Doctor, Pharmacist or Physical Therapist can see, like a swollen joint) and symptoms (things patients feel, like joint pain and fatigue). While the nature and intensity of these signs and symptoms may differ among the types of arthritis, several are commonly associated with inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis - the two most common forms.
Diagnosing and Treating Arthritis
If you recognize arthritis symptoms, it is important to speak with your Doctor or Pharmacist about what you are experiencing. Early diagnosis and treatment are vitally important for achieving the best outcomes. A correct diagnosis is the first step towards taking control of arthritis and building a treatment plan.
While there is no known cause or cure for arthritis, the progression and symptoms of the disease can often be managed. Early diagnosis and appropriate medications, along with physical activity and weight management, are key strategies to manage arthritis, reduce disability, and improve quality of life.