BARRY’S BAY – Cure? no. Control? yes. Arthritis, a disease that swells, stiffens and damages the moveable joints in our body, currently affects over six million Canadians. With the aging population of Baby Boomers, that number could increase to 8.5 million by 2035. In some cases, the disease can affect internal organs and eyesight. In light of this, The Arthritis Society has chosen September as Arthritis Awareness month. While not considered an epidemic, the numbers do give rise to concern. Athough arthritis is incurable, with the right knowledge, lifestyle and treatment plan there are ways to better manage this painful condition. The need for education plays a huge role in addressing the issue. As arthritis is not usually viewed as a serious disorder, increased awareness of the condition can go a long way to assist those who suffer, both in acceptance and support. As with other areas of our lives, self-empowerment goes a long way to provide a better quality of life for those who experience persistent daily joint pain and affected mobility. If we take an active role in our own treatment plan so that we are better able to self-manage the discomfort, it cannot but help lead to better outcomes. “Self-advocacy is an important part of the patient journey,” says President and CEO of the Arthritis Society (Canada), Janet Yale. “We want people to be aware that they may have arthritis and they don’t even know it yet.” People with arthritis live in constant pain that can, at times, be severe. They experience limitations to their quality of life every day. Many battle with fatigue, depression and anxiety. For these reasons, recognition and early detection of, as well as appropriate treatment for, the condition is crucial to both the prevention of long-term damage as well as the achievement of a more active and comfortable lifestyle. Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe inflammation of the joints. Two of the most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Both are very painful conditions. Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is it is called is actually an autoimmune, systemic disease that mistakenly attacks your own body tissues. The condition affects the lining of your joints, causing painful swelling that can result in bone erosion and joint deformity. To read the full story, pick up a copy of the September 19, 2018 paper.