We all have bones and joints but most of us didn’t pay much attention to them when we were young, we might sprain an ankle or wrench a knee, but it didn’t keep us down too long. Well . . . it’s different now, most of us have joint aches and a lot of us have different degrees of arthritis. As many of you already know these types of aches and pains can have a big effect on our quality of life. Bone and Joint Action week, was last week, October 12th to October 20th. This special week’s goal is to raise the awareness of how bone and joint problems affect a huge number of us and highlights the need for more research and focus on this area of our health.
We’re living longer and that brings these types of bone and joint conditions into play at a steadily increasing rate. Did you know that 54% of Americans over 18 have musculoskeletal (bone and joint) conditions and a 33% went to the doctor or hospital to be treated? There has been an almost 20% increase in the last 10 years in these types of conditions. These bone and joint conditions effect a lot of people and cost our healthcare system a lot (to say nothing about the out-of-pocket costs we pay) and yet these musculoskeletal conditions make up only 2% of the research budget of the National Institute of Health, and it’s shrinking! This action week is a great way to shine a much-needed light on these conditions that affect so many of us.
There are a number of special days in the Bone and Joint action week, I would like to focus on two of these days, October 12th, World Arthritis Day and October 20th, World Osteoporosis Day.
World Arthritis Day – One of the resources offered during this day is The United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI). They provide Experts in Arthritis, an educational program for people with arthritis. There are sessions by rheumatologist, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, nurses, and occupational therapists, offering information and help for both the patient and the caregiver. Another resource is ControlArthritis.org, which offers videos with tips on how patients can control their arthritis.
World Osteoporosis Day – This day, with the theme “That’s Osteoporosis,” will seek to improve the understanding of osteoporosis and its outcome, with the focus on the link between osteoporosis and broken bones and the human and socio-economic costs of fractures. They encourage the public to check their personal risk for osteoporosis through the use of the new IOF Osteoporosis Risk Check. You can learn more at www.worldosteoporosisday.org.
The other special days in the Bone and Joint Action Week are, October 15th, World Spine Day, October 17th, World Trauma Day and October 19th, World Pediatric Bone and Joint (PB&J) Day.
I have one other piece of advice that I feel is important. I’ve been part of panels, listened to presentations and conferences and moderated panels on numerous healthcare subjects and the pain that results from different diseases. Through all of these different forums I have noticed a common piece of advice that has almost always been offered – – – keep a journal of your symptoms and pain. When we get old our memory isn’t as good as it once was. Write down things like, when did a symptom present itself, in the morning or the evening? Was it after a good night’s sleep or a poor one? When the pain got worse what was I doing, was it better or worse than the last time the pain hit? Etc., Etc. These are the things that we can bring to our doctor, information that can help in our diagnosis. It is a powerful tool we can bring to bear as we seek to be our own best advocate.
I have seen the impact of arthritis on my wife’s mother and grandmother as they were forced to give up their lifelong passion of quilting and needlepoint due to the ravages of arthritis. We’ve all seen the impact of osteoporosis as older people fall and break their hips with often life taking results. When so many of us are impacted by these diseases why is so little research being funded? Let’s be active advocates, both of our own health and the health of our loved ones, by encouraging our government to focus on bone and joint health, something that would help a large number of older Americans.
Stay healthy and safe, Thair