In Arthritis Consumer Experts’ (ACE) latest issue of JointHealth™ insight, we explore what “building bridges” – the theme to this year’s Canadian Rheumatology Association and Arthritis Health Professions Association Annual Scientific Meeting – means to arthritis patients and health care providers. To help you, we have prepared a curated guide to a selection of #CRArthritis interviews, outlining key points covered during the event.
Among the topics of interest to patients, the interviews provide information on:
Building bridges between patients, healthcare providers, researchers, and allied health professionals
Kids and arthritis
Working with arthritis
Targeted specific research
Mental health and arthritis
Hot topics from arthritis patient organizations
Models of arthritis care
All interviews can be accessed through YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. To turn on French subtitles, please adjust the YouTube settings for each interview.
Caregivers play an important role throughout the inflammatory arthritis models of care. The nurse at your doctor’s office serves as a first line of contact between you and your doctor. Your partner and family members at home provide physical and emotional support – be it helping you with groceries, taking you to your doctor’s appointment, or listening to your concerns about your treatment therapies. On Caregiver Day, we want to thank you to all the caregivers who are providing care worldwide. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of patients living with arthritis!
What is an inflammatory arthritis model of care?
“Models of care are very important for chronic diseases such as inflammatory arthritis because they facilitate early efficient diagnosis and delivery of holistic health care services, help in the realignment of existing resources to optimize health system efficiencies, and identify the need for new resources. Arthritis patients require an integrated team-based approach to care that includes a number of health care providers over a period of time.”
Dr. Diane Mosher, Professor of Medicine and the Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Calgary
What changes would you like to see in models of arthritis care?
Arthritis is a chronic disease that has a devastating and debilitating effect on the lives of more than 6 million Canadians. According to the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute, more than 500,000 Albertans are living with arthritis – approximately one in five. Within a generation, more than one in four Albertans is expected to have the most disabling and life-threatening types – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability and work disability in Alberta, with nearly three out of every five people with arthritis of working age, costing Alberta’s economy $3.3 billion in direct and indirect costs.
Considering the prevalence of the disease and its significant cost to individuals and society, arthritis should be an issue of great importance to candidates running for office.
ACE sent an open letter and a survey to candidates running in the Alberta election. As part of its core government outreach activities and in the spirit of non-partisanship, ACE outlines the impact of arthritis in Alberta and asks each candidate to share how government can improve prevention, treatment and care in Alberta.
The questionnaire asked the following questions:
What will your government do to bring a high quality, standardized evidence-based model of arthritis care for all Alberta residents?
What will your government do to introduce patient education and exercise programs, such as GLA:D, that have been proven to significantly reduce hip or knee osteoarthritis symptoms?
What will your government do to improve the uptake of biosimilars and increase accessibility to life saving medications and reduce out-of-pocket costs for Alberta residents living with inflammatory arthritis?
What will your government do to improve the healthcare and lives of Aboriginals living with arthritis in Alberta?
How will your government establish better prevention programs and facilitate flexible work arrangements to help reduce the direct and indirect costs of arthritis to Alberta employers and the Alberta economy?
Will your government take steps to increase the number of rheumatologists and trained arthritis professionals to ensure timely, specialized care for Alberta patients with arthritis?
ACE will be collecting Party and individual candidate’s responses. Responses will be posted on the Alberta Election 2019 page as we receive them.
If you have comments, questions, or concerns about any of the answers provided, please take the time to contact the parties.
Did their responses help you decide how you will vote? Tell us what you think of their answers. Please contact us by email.
A recent study has shown exciting new benefits associated with exercise for people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina found that 10 weeks of high-intensity interval walk training was associated with decreased disease activity and improved immune function for adults with RA. High-intensity interval walk training refers to a popular form of exercise that includes short bursts of fast-paced walking at maximum effort followed by less intense recovery periods.
The study included twelve physically inactive adults over the age of 55, with a confirmed diagnosis of RA. Participants completed a 10-week program consisting of 3x 30-minute sessions a week of supervised treadmill walking. This Included a 5-minute warm up and 5-minute cool down. Within the training session, participants walked at 80-90% of their maximum effort in intervals of 60 to 90 seconds. These high-intensity intervals were followed by recovery intervals at 50-60% maximum effort. Speed and interval times varied for each person based on a cardiorespitory fitness test, but none exceeded walking pace.
Disease activity was assessed by a rheumatologist through a count of swollen and tender joints, perceived general health and blood tests to measure inflammation. Cardiovascular fitness and immune functions were assessed using a variety of clinical and laboratory tests, as well as standardized questionnaires. At the end of the 10 weeks, the following outcomes were observed:
RA disease activity reduced by 38%, with a significant decrease in swollen joints, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and improved self-perceived health. An ESR blood test measures the rate at which red blood cells settle in the period of one hour, revealing inflammatory activity in the body.
Improved immune functions suggesting a reduced infection risk and inflammatory potential
Cardiorespitory fitness increased by 9%
Resting blood pressure and heart rate both reduced
There is a substantial amount of research on exercise and rheumatoid arthritis, but few studies have reported the actual lowering of disease activity scores. As stated by the researchers, this study suggests that,
“High intensity interval walking could be an efficient, tolerable, and highly effective intervention to augment disease activity and improve overall health in patients with RA.”
There are certain limitations to the study such as the small sample size and no control group, but the findings will hopefully encourage more research in the area. In addition, these findings add to a growing body of research on the benefits of exercise for people with arthritis. To learn more about the study, click here.
To learn more about physical activity and arthritis visit the following pages:
Mental Health and arthritis: a complex relationship
In the latest issue of JointHealth™ insight, Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) reports on the important relationship between mental health and arthritis. People with inflammatory arthritis are more likely to experience mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and “brain fog” than the general population.
This issue of JointHealth™ insight will cover the following:
Relationships between depression, “brain fog” and inflammatory arthritis
Burden of depression
Recognizing and managing depression and anxiety
Prevent depression and anxiety
Love, sex, and arthritis*
*Please be advised that the content in this section contain graphics of “joint friendly” positions during sex and may not be appropriate for you or others in your household. The graphics are excerpted from the book, “Rheumatoid Arthritis: Plan to Win”, by Cheryl Koehn, Dr. John Esdaile and Taysha Palmer published by Oxford University Press, 2002.
Much has been said and written about the importance of exercisefor our health and wellbeing. However, for people with arthritis, it also can help manage symptoms. While people with arthritis may be reluctant to exercise fearing joint damage, exercise is especially crucial for people living with all forms of arthritis disease. In fact, exercise is a vitally important part of a well-rounded arthritis treatment plan.
For people living with arthritis, pain, body weight, age and lack of knowledge about appropriate types of exercises may be hurdles to getting started on an exercise program. Another barrier is the lack of recommendation and referral for exercise by physicians. A Canadian study of osteoarthritis patients showed that only one third had been advised to exercise by their doctor. However, exercise has numerous physical and mental health benefits and there are no specific exercises that should be avoided by people with arthritis.
One of the most important benefits of exercise is weight management, which helps to improve body image and can improve the symptoms of arthritis, especially of osteoarthritis. If a person is heavier than their ideal body weight, even a small amount of weight loss can help reduce both the risk of developing certain types of osteoarthritis and the chances of osteoarthritis worsening with age.
For everyone, exercise helps to improve heart and lung function, but for people living with arthritis, a variety of types of exercise can help to reduce joint pain and control joint swelling. These include:
Range of motion exercises help to keep the joints mobile and are also useful for helping to prevent injuries.
Weight bearing exercises can decrease bone loss, keep weak joints stable, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Aerobic exercises, such as walking, help with weight loss. As well, exercise can help make it easier to fall asleep and to sleep more soundly.
In addition to improved physical health, exercise has many psychological benefits. Pain can seem more pronounced when we are unhappy or upset and exercise can help reduce depression. Additionally, it can improve self-esteem and self-confidence, improve the ability to relax, improve mood and wellbeing, and promote a good body image. Exercise also provides a good outlet for dealing with stress and anxiety.
Research suggests that most types of physical activity do not cause or worsen arthritis. In contrast, a lack of physical activity is associated with increased muscle weakness, joint stiffness, reduced range of motion, fatigue and overall reduced physical fitness.
Once a regular pattern of exercise has been established, it is important to maintain this pattern.
In order to get the benefits of exercise, it is vital to stay active.
Research shows that in people with osteoarthritis, once exercise stops, the reduced pain and disability they were experiencing ends.
To ensure that you keep up with a routine of exercising, consider joining a group program or bringing a friend or family member along to motivate you.
Eight ways to get started exercising:
Try to choose a type of exercise, or an exercise program, that you enjoy. It will be much easier to stick to the program if you like what you are doing. Most types of activities are helpful for people living with arthritis, so feel free to do your favourite things such as walking, swimming, golfing, or gardening. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous or boring to be good for you.
Community centres can be a terrific resource. Flip through the lists of classes offered at your local community or aquatic centre to find activities that best suit your interests and physical abilities.
You may find that having a partner to exercise with will be more motivating. Research tells us that people are more likely to stick with exercises if they bring along a friend or family member.
Sometimes, having a detailed list of activities and realistic goals will help motivate you, so it may be useful to get a referral to a physical therapist to create an appropriate exercise regimen that suits you and your body. Also, keeping an exercise log can help you and your therapist monitor your progress.
For some, assistive devices such as splints or orthotics may be helpful for protecting your joints while you exercise. An occupational therapist can be a good resource.
Before beginning a new exercise program, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor or health care provider to determine the most appropriate exercise or activity for your needs and capabilities. Also, be aware that during flare-ups it is important not to over-stress and over-work joints, which may cause more pain. For this reason it is important to speak to your doctor about exercise and the types of exercises most suitable.
Try setting a firm goal and then rewarding yourself when you achieve it. For example, set a goal of swimming 5 laps. When you reach that goal, reward yourself, and then set a new goal of swimming 10 laps. Rewards can be anything that is meaningful to you: setting aside time for yourself, treating yourself to a massage or a good book, or going out for a meal with friends.
Acknowledge your effort. Be proud of yourself for taking an active role in your health care.
Register for this free event to hear and learn from inspirational women living with arthritis and leading health professionals!
300,000 Canadians live with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and women are affected two to three times more often than men. For many people living with RA, career continuation and advancement can seem out of reach.
To bring attention to the triumphs and challenges of people working with chronic diseases like RA, Women in Biz Network and Eli Lily Canada are partnering on a nationwide series of empowering events called #RAMATTERSATWORK.
Join them for an evening of lively discussion between inspirational women living with arthritis and their health experts. Speakers will share stories of difficulty and triumph while thriving in the workplace, and challenge the negative beliefs and self-doubt associated with living and working with a chronic disease. Stay tuned for panelist announcements!
Join us and the conversation at #RAMATTERSATWORK
Toronto Event Date: February 25, 2019, 5:45pm-8:30pm Location: Westin Harbour Castle 1 Harbour Square Toronto M5J 1A6 Free Registration:ramattersatwork.eventbrite.com
Montreal Event Date: February 26, 2019, 5:45pm-8:30pm Location: AC Marriott Montreal Centre-Ville 250 Lévesque Blvd W Montreal H2Z 1Z8 Free Registration:ramattersatwork.eventbrite.com
Do you want to travel pain-free? Do you wish there were more ways to help people living with arthritis? Share your wish list with us this holiday season!
For this year’s holiday campaign, Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) is asking you to share your arthritis wish list using our campaign hashtag #MyArthritisWishList. ACE will do the same, and hope that through continued community sharing, research and medical advances are possible. Here are a few wishes from last week:
“I wish my family doctor would make arthritis resources available in the waiting room.” – ACE Subscriber, #MyArthritisWishList
“My daughter lives with rheumatoid arthritis and buses to school every day. She gets dirty looks when she asks for a seat. I wish people understood that arthritis is an invisible disease.” – Concerned mother, #MyArthritisWishList
To participate in the #MyArthritisWishList campaign, please:
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us your arthritis wish or wishes
Share your wish on our Facebook or Twitter and include the hashtag #MyArthritisWishList
Share, like, and comment on #MyArthritisWishList posts
We will provide a #MyArthritisWishList summary on January 8, 2019, and promise to use it as ACE’s guiding light for our advocacy, research and information programming over the next year.
Here’s to speaking out and working together to make everyone’s arthritis wishes come true!
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”.
Pain is your body’s warning signal, letting you know that something is wrong in your body. When part of your body is injured or damaged, chemical signals are released that travel from nerve system cells (called neurons) to your brain where they are recognized as pain.
For many people living with arthritis, “I’m so tired” is an often spoken phrase. Fatigue is their constant, very unpleasant companion. It is a symptom which is often overlooked or overshadowed by other concerns when treating arthritis, but it can be life-altering to people living with the disease.
Often, research into treatments for arthritis has focussed on other disease symptoms, sometimes leaving out the importance of managing fatigue. Some recent research, however, has focussed on fatigue, why it is harmful, and how it can be better treated.
In an article published in Clinical Care in the Rheumatic Diseases, Basia Belza and Kori Dewing examined fatigue in arthritis and described some strategies for dealing with fatigue and minimizing its impact.
This article cites other research to conclude that 80 – 100% of people living with certain types of inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia, live with fatigue. Most types of arthritis are associated with some fatigue, and it can be one of the most difficult symptoms to live with, and treat.
Fatigue has been defined as “usually or always being too tired to do what you want” (Wolf et al). For people living with extreme fatigue, completing even the simplest tasks, or participating in normal day to day activities, can feel nearly impossible. People who face fatigue as a symptom of their disease can simply feel “too tired” to do the things they want or need to do in their lives.
Causes of fatigue
There are several causes of arthritis-related fatigue, which very often occur together. Belza and Dewing note several causes of arthritis-related fatigue, including: Continue reading →