Today, October 12, 2022, marks the 26th annual World Arthritis Day, a day when patient advocates and rheumatology experts bring additional awareness to issues related to living with arthritis. This year, we decided to turn to several rheumatologists to find out what they wanted their patients to remember today (and every day).
Common threads among the responses emphasized the importance of self-care and maintaining hope if a treatment falls you. Remember: It’s not your fault. In addition, the health care professionals talked about how each patient is unique — there are more than 100 types of arthritis with varying causes, symptoms, and treatments — and what works for someone else might not work for you.
We know that having a chronic condition is cumbersome, especially if you’ve been cycling for years to find the right treatment. It’s often disheartening to start a new treatment only to find that your body rejects it or that it does not bring you the quality of life you need. Yet if there’s one message rheumatologist want to spread for patients this World Arthritis Day is that there’s hope. Read their messages below.
Don’t Give Up on Treatment
- Elena Myasoedova, MD, PhD, a clinical rheumatologist specializing in inflammatory arthritis, would like for patients to know three key points: 1) Starting treatment early and adhering to it can be of great benefit in the long run. 2) Many treatment options are available and effective in most patients (but not all!). 3) Don’t despair if the treatment failed you.
- Tuhina Neogi, MD, PhD, reminds us that different people need different treatment plans: “There’s no one-size-fits-all management approach,” she says.
- Sian Yik Lim, MD, who is my rheumatologist, wants his patients to remember that “advances in medicine have allowed us to do much more for our patients with inflammatory arthritis, significantly improving their quality of life and preventing joint damage.”
Take a Holistic Approach to Arthritis Care
- Iris Navarro-Millan, MD, a rheumatologist with expertise in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), emphasized the need to take care of your mental health and heart health, noting the added risk patients with RA have for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. “Your mental well-being is as important as your physical. Also, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, taking care of your heart is part of taking care of your RA, too,” she says.
- Madelaine A. Feldman, MD, FACR, knows first-hand how important it is to manage self-care, especially for people with arthritis. “As a rheumatologist and a mom of a daughter diagnosed with JIA (Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis) at age 9, I understand that self-care is one of the most important aspects of wellness. Yes, medications are needed at times, but in my humble opinion, TRUE healing is from within.”
- “Physical therapy and exercise are underrated and can be used more.” — Dr. Myasoedova
- “Take care of your joints every day by eating a healthful diet and getting regular exercise.” — Dr. Sian Yik Lim
- “We need to find the right puzzle pieces to fit together for comprehensive holistic care for each person. Physical activity and exercise are not detrimental, and in fact are helpful; [there are] many different options for different abilities.” — Dr. Neogi
As this year’s World Arthritis Day comes and goes, let’s keep these words of wisdom in mind, as well as the advice you receive from your own rheumatologist, so we can all work together to live and thrive with arthritis.
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