September is National Arthritis Month in Canada – a time to raise awareness of a condition that affects approximately 4.6 million Canadians. Arthritis is one of the world’s most common chronic conditions, and remains a leading cause of pain and physical disability. Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions can affect people of all ages, with numbers expected to double worldwide by 2020.
Living with the chronic pain of arthritis decreases quality of life and, for most, has a significant impact on all daily activities. For those suffering from arthritis, even the simplest daily task can become a real challenge; sleep is easily disrupted, depression is common and visits to healthcare professionals are frequent.
There are many forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form and the most frequent joint disorder in seniors. It is also one of the major reasons why seniors limit their activities.
What is arthritis? Arthritis is due to the wearing down of cartilage, which is the material that cushions the ends of the bones. Some researchers believe that when the joints are unable to react properly to stress, the cartilage is damaged. This leads to the development of arthritis. The joints most commonly affected by arthritis are weight-bearing joints, such as feet, knees, hips and spine. Other joints, such as finger and thumb joints, may also be affected.
While approximately the same percentages of men and women have arthritis when all ages are considered, it affects them in different ways. The disease seems to affect women’s hands, knees, ankles and feet, whereas in men, the symptoms are more likely to appear in the hips, wrist and spine. Also, women are more likely to experience symptoms in more than one joint than are men.
The Arthritis Society offers client based programs and services for those living with arthritis in Ontario via the Arthritis Rehabilitation and Education Program (AREP). Our physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers have advanced training in the management of arthritis. They are available to assess and provide a variety of services and ideas to help people of all ages living with arthritis.
By enrolling in this personalized program, people with a confirmed diagnosis of arthritis learn:
- how to manage pain
- updates on medication
- exercise to reduce stiffness, increase strength and improve fitness
- how to feel less tired
- how to protect joints and use helpful devices
- ways to cope with the emotional impact of arthritis
- how their family can help them
- ways to adapt to their home or workplace
- how other services in their community can help These services are free (funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care).
To participate in the therapy program, contact the Arthritis Society office in Kingston to book an appointment. To be eligible to enroll you must have a confirmed diagnosis of arthritis by a physician. If you are a health professional and would like to refer a patient to our program, you can print the referral form from the website (www.arthritis.ca) and mail or fax it to the Eastern Region Arthritis Society office in Kingston, 100 – 308 Wellington Street, Kingston, ON K7K 7A8, Phone: 613-546-2546, Fax: 613-546-3819, firstname.lastname@example.org.