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“Suffering the Silence” during Arthritis Awareness Month

A picture of Cheryl Koehn

Dear ACE community members,

I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for over a quarter century now, and I’m sick of it.

Canadians living with one of over 100 types of arthritis are told to understand that what they have is “just arthritis.” They are frustrated by the self-management routine they are supposed to be “in charge of” because they don’t have access to the very things they are supposed to self-manage with. They’re discouraged to read about other important diseases in the media spotlight, but not their own. They’re saddened that yet another Arthritis Month in Canada has begun without a cure for any type of arthritis. That’s how I feel, too. What about you?

Our community continues to face significant barriers to elevating arthritis with the public, governments and workplaces across the country where the havoc wreaked by the diseases is still underestimated and poorly understood.

Well, I’ve had enough. We can’t passively accept arthritis. It maims and kills, but people seem afraid to say that. I’m going to start saying it in my life and in my work.

I am rheumatoid arthritis. Who are you?

We need to break through the sound barrier. Please take a moment and tell me, tell your arthritis sisters and brothers, who you are. I want to know. Make millions know.
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AS it Goes – Bottle Cap Madness

Bottle of spilled pills

Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I can hear the sound of the spill even before it happens. Why? Because it’s a predictable outcome and it’s an oft-repeated event in our household. The noise I am referring to is the sound of a plastic pill bottle with 250 capsules hitting a tile floor and bouncing…. everywhere. The scattershot is usually followed by a few select curses and my name.

The issue is that I don’t put the childproof caps back on bottles (or any other hard-to-open bottle top, for that matter). The osteoarthritis in my thumbs and other finger joints make it a struggle-and-a-half to twist and line-up the arrows and then press down sufficiently hard while turning in the slim hope that I will actually succeed in freeing a childproof cap. Once I manage to get those dang tops off, I simply leave them off. Sometimes I rest the cover on top of the bottle, which is a deceptive practice because it appears that the top is securely closed (my bad), which leads to unfortunate incidents, such as the spill situ described above. Continue reading

Managing your osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis is a full-time job

Work stationYou may think that working a 9-to-5 desk job is tough. Think about doing that while managing your osteoarthritis and/or inflammatory arthritis, which itself is a full-time job on its own. For people living with these diseases, working in an office environment – and sitting for a prolonged period – can create joint stiffness in the spine, hips or knees. Improper posture and technique when using a computer or writing may aggravate pain for people with the disease in their hands. It can also place additional stress on affected joints. Experts suggest we maintain regular movement throughout the workday as sitting too much can weaken the muscles surrounding your joints.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Dr. Aileen Davis, a professor in the departments of physical therapy and surgery at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, said: “For people who are spending long days sitting at work, we would recommend that they periodically do some stretches and also that they get up from their desk and move around every hour, hour and a half. I’m not saying that you’ve got to walk a long, long way, but just even the fact that you’re getting up and moving around your office is helpful.” Continue reading

Move More. Sit Less: A Survey for patients living with chronic disease

Move More. Sit Less BannerA survey for patients living with chronic disease.

The Physical Activity Support Kit Initiative (PASKI) is a B.C. province-wide project to develop an online “one-stop shop” of information and resources to help persons living with chronic disease to ‘move more and sit less’.

Active Business WomanNinety-seven patients, researchers and health care providers are working to develop this online toolkit. To help us better understand what patients would most like to see included in the toolkit, we have developed a short (10 minutes) survey.

If you are living with a chronic disease, we would appreciate your input. The survey is open until September 18, 2015, inclusively.

Please forward this email to friends and family living with chronic disease so that they may also participate.

Link between rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease explained

Woman covering face with hands

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

According to a new study, mental health problems like anxiety and depression may explain why people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. According to the study, anger, anxiety, depressive symptoms, job stress and low social support was linked to increasing risk of hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis for people with RA.

In the study, Dr. Jon T. Giles of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City and team compared 195 patients with RA and no history of heart problems to more than 1,000 similar adults without arthritis. Study participants with RA had more depressive symptoms, higher personal (such as caring for a loved one) and health stress, higher job stress and lower relationship stress. These listed psychosocial problems, on top of higher anxiety scores and anger scores, were associated with increased odds of coronary artery calcium. Furthermore, job stress increased the risk of plaque in the carotid artery in the neck, which helps supply blood to the brain. In the comparison group, there was no relation between the aforementioned psychosocial factors and artery calcium. Continue reading

The glass is half full for these study participants

2 girls on smartphone

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine suggests that positive attitude is linked to fewer rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms. In the study, the RA patients who reported more positive mood moments during the day had less pain and fewer arthritis-related complications than those who reported greater depressive symptoms. This is the first study to measure mood throughout the day (previous studies linked end-of-day mood to increased/decreased pain among arthritis patients).

People living with RA are twice as likely as the rest of the population to experience depression. There are several reasons depression occurs in people with RA. Sometimes it starts from the shock of diagnosis and finding out that it is an unpredictable disease that can become more painful and debilitating over time. Sometimes depression occurs because of feeling tired and unwell or isolated as a result of the disease. RA can affect the ability to work, look after family, and engage in social activities and interests. The stress that results from either of these situations can trigger depression in those who are predisposed by heredity or other factors. Click here to learn more about depression and arthritis. Continue reading