Tag Archives: arthritis pain

arthritis a mandate for action

A Mandate for Action: New Arthritis Data Shows Gaps That Demand Action

Pain. Sleeplessness. Anxiety. Depression. Not getting your medical needs met.

Those are among the top things people with arthritis say they struggle with most. And the magnitude of those issues comes through loud and clear in “A Mandate for Action” — a new report spearheaded by the Arthritis Foundation that captures input from 18,000 responses to the ongoing Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment.

This continuous scientific study, which is patient-centered and patient-driven, is one of the nation’s largest studies of its kind. The results amplify the patient voice to influence — and change — the future of arthritis.

For the first time, patient input brings real-life data to the forefront, validating the individual experiences arthritis patients have shared anecdotally for years. Your stories have always reflected the issues you face; but the data being captured now underscores the real extent of those challenges in a way never done before.

“I think the results are what those living with arthritis knew,” according to comedian and Arthritis Foundation partner, Matt Iseman.

As this report shows, arthritis is a serious public health crisis, affecting at least 54 million Americans. And the toll of living with this complex disease, in its many forms, is astronomical.


Ever-present arthritis pain leads to other problems. There’s constant fatigue and sleep disruption. 92% said pain interfered with their day-to-day activities. Two-thirds said it’s difficult to take part in family activities — and felt depressed and/or fearful and anxious.

arthritis depression

In addition, arthritis patients have difficulty doing their job.

arthritis work

arthritis work

Getting the health care you need as an arthritis patient is another major obstacle. Less than half of respondents to INSIGHTS were satisfied with their health care experience or felt they got the help they needed, especially among those with lower incomes.

arthritis finances

Clearly, despite advances in medicine, arthritis patients suffer from intense pain, are unable to engage in daily activities and don’t get what they need from our health care system. These ongoing findings are being shared with health care professionals, policymakers, corporations and other decision-makers — with our urgent mandate for action.

The findings aren’t surprising, but they are eye opening. As the CEO of a major medical device company that develops and markets treatments for arthritis has observed: “I thought I understood the impact that arthritis has on the lives of so many people. I did not. The impact of the data here cannot be underestimated,” shared Tony Bihl, CEO of Bioventus.

Besides validating the Arthritis Foundation’s work over the past seven decades, the data further supports our current initiatives and will guide us in the future — driving our national agenda while shaping improvements in the services provided in local communities.

“These are data a lot of us have experienced firsthand, but now we know we’re not alone. We know how many fellow Americans are facing these same challenges,” says Iseman.

Patients in all 50 states have weighed in, and no community is immune from the effects of arthritis, though the challenges vary widely from one community to another. Lower-income patients and minorities suffer most. As data collection continues, these rapidly growing facts and figures will gauge changes in communities nationwide, so we can drill down more deeply on the support needed locally — and find solutions.

“The pain, hardship, isolation and marginalization of people with arthritis can no longer be ignored,” says Ann M. Palmer, Arthritis Foundation president and CEO. “This report allows us to share with local and national leaders the true impact of living with arthritis. Arthritis patients are living a life of less, instead of living the life they deserve.”

Your voice counts. What you add is imperative to changing the future of arthritis. Participate now — it takes only 10 minutes. Continue to report what you’re going through, to help measure gaps and the progress being made. In the words of Matt Iseman, “It’s a time for us to take action, to make a difference.”

opiod risk

More Studies Show Opioids’ Risks Outweigh Benefits for Arthritis

Two new studies presented at the 2019 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting examine the role of opioid medications in treating rheumatic conditions. The first study found hospitalizations for opioid use disorder in people with osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal disorders have surged over the past two decades. The second found that these drugs have only a small benefit for pain and function and do not significantly improve people’s quality of life. While these are just two of many studies on the topic, they highlight how complicated the treatment of chronic pain is.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared the opioid problem in this country an “epidemic.” Nearly 400,000 people died from opioid overdose between 1999 and 2017. Still, doctors continue to prescribe these drugs for patients who are in chronic pain.

Chronic musculoskeletal diseases, like arthritis, are among the top causes of chronic pain, so people with arthritis are at particularly high risk of receiving opioids and potentially developing an opioid use disorder (OUD), says lead study author Jasvinder Singh, MD, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

To understand the magnitude of the problem, Dr. Singh and his colleagues analyzed rates of OUD hospitalizations from 1998 to 2016 for five conditions: gout, osteoarthritis (OA), fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and low back pain.

Over that 19-year period, OUD-associated hospitalizations surged 24-fold for gout, nine-fold for OA and six-fold for RA. Eventually the rates of OUD leveled out for people with gout and low back pain, but continued to rise for those with OA or RA. “For some conditions, like gout and fibromyalgia and to some extent rheumatoid arthritis, we weren’t aware of how extensive the problem was,” Dr. Singh says.

Given the increasing awareness of the risks linked to opioid use, a drop in those numbers may occur as more recent data becomes available, Dr. Singh says. But until better solutions for chronic pain are available, opioids will likely remain an integral part of arthritis treatment. “We’re talking about diseases that outstrip cancer and heart disease in terms of numbers by several million in the United States. But the progress we’ve made in adequately treating pain in these conditions is somewhat limited,” he adds.

The other research presented at the conference included results from 23 studies on the efficacy of opioids in more than 11,000 people with knee and/or hip OA. The authors analyzed participants’ pain and function after two, four, eight and 12 weeks of opioid use. Although the drugs offered small improvements in pain and function after two to 12 weeks of treatment, they did not improve quality of life or depression.

“Additionally, we found that the magnitude of these effects [on pain and function] remains small and continues to decrease over time,” says lead author Raveendhara R. Bannaru, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Treatment Comparison and Integrative Analysis at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. “In light of dependency concerns and the discomfort that many patients feel while taking the drugs, it would appear that there is no optimal therapeutic window for the use of oral opioids in OA.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the authors found that strong opioids had consistently smaller effect on pain than weak opioids did. Dr. Bannaru says it’s possible that many participants who received strong opioids couldn’t reach a dose high enough to relieve their pain because they couldn’t tolerate the side effects. “Participants receiving strong opioids were twice as likely as participants receiving weak/intermediate opioids to discontinue the study due to adverse events,” he says.

Given the risk of dependency and side effects with opioids, the results of these studies should make people and their doctors more wary of these drugs. “I think that patients need to be fully informed with regard to benefits and risks,” Dr. Singh says. Having more information about opioid risks and their effects on quality of life from future studies should make it easier for patients and their doctors to choose the most appropriate pain reliever.

Author: Stephanie Watson for the Arthritis Foundation.

Join the Live Yes! Arthritis Network FOR FREE. Our community is here to help you.


Falling Leaves and Aching Joints: Combat the Pain Caused by Cooler Temps

Fall is a beautiful time of year – but along with changing leaves and cooler temps can come painful arthritis flares and inflamed joints. Changes in weather are often a source of discomfort for people with arthritis. Thankfully, there are ways you can lessen the impact cooler temps have on your joints, including making a pain plan that works for you.

Continue reading Falling Leaves and Aching Joints: Combat the Pain Caused by Cooler Temps

when to go to the emergency room

Know When to Go to the Emergency Room

You’re feeling sick but your doctor is booked and the nearest urgent care center is 45 minutes away. There’s always the hospital emergency room, but your symptoms aren’t that bad. Should you just tough it out?

Figuring out how and where to handle an illness isn’t easy. It’s even harder for people with inflammatory types of arthritis, because complications related to the disease and its treatment can be serious, says Uzma Haque, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Here’s what she suggests:

Continue reading Know When to Go to the Emergency Room

tips to ease driving pain

4 Tips to Ease Driving Pain

You can make adjustments to minimize pain and safely accommodate a limited range of motion while driving. Start by adjusting mirrors so you won’t have to twist and turn to check blindspots when changing lanes. Elin Schold-Davis, an occupational therapist, driving rehabilitation specialist and coordinator of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Initiative, offers more tips. Continue reading 4 Tips to Ease Driving Pain

Natural Pain Relief for Arthritis

Natural Relief for Arthritis Pain

There are many ways to manage arthritis pain and get pain relief. No single treatment is guaranteed to produce complete and consistent relief from pain. Often, you need a combination of methods. And you may need to add or stop a treatment over time as your condition changes.

You may get pain relief from nonprescription medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Or your doctor can prescribe a stronger medication if those don’t work. But you may have side effects or the medications might not provide complete relief for you. Here are other proven methods you can try to soothe arthritis pain in addition to pills and medical treatments.

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