National Volunteer Week Spotlight: Community Leaders Bring Us Closer to a Cure

DEB CONSTIEN: Hero of the Cause

 It’s National Volunteer Week, an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges. Arthritis is a widespread and challenging disease that affects at least 54 million Americans, probably millions more. The reason the Arthritis Foundation exists is to conquer arthritis — offering solutions for today and hope for tomorrow. Volunteers lead our fight, so all week long we want to take a moment to recognize and salute all Arthritis Foundation volunteers for their generous commitment and hard work. Continue reading National Volunteer Week Spotlight: Community Leaders Bring Us Closer to a Cure

Medical Cannabis & Arthritis

Is it right for you? Where do you start?

By Rebecca Gillett, MS OTR/L, Live Yes! With Arthritis co-host and arthritis patient

Finding treatments to help alleviate the chronic pain of arthritis can be challenging, at best. It can be overwhelming to find treatments and medications to alleviate pain that don’t cause other issues. When you have lived with chronic pain for years, you know there is not a one-size-fits-all fix for the various aches and pains you experience.

So perhaps you have considered turning to medical cannabis products containing CBD (cannabidiol) and/or THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that produces a “high”) to treat your arthritis symptoms. If you decide to go down that path, you will arrive at a buffet of products and treatments, depending on your state’s laws, that can be beyond confusing. Where and how do you start? What’s the best type of product to use for your particular needs?

Full disclosure: I’ve never inhaled, so I’m not an authority on the matter. I do live in Colorado, so products are readily available and seem to be showing up everywhere I go. Over the past few years, I have tried CBD products in various forms to help alleviate neck and back pain, some with minimal amounts of THC and others only CBD. I’ve also tried CBD edibles in hopes of it helping with sleep. My personal experience has been that some topical CBD products have helped with reducing my joint pain, but minimally. Edibles did not agree with my digestive system, so not for me.

All of this, of course, after discussions with my rheumatologist. We talked about whether using CBD would be a good idea as a bridge between my infusion treatments or to address sleep issues. I am fortunate to have an amazing rheumatologist who is all about shared decision-making and open communication. The fact that I can have a conversation with her about alternative treatments is important, and I know not all patients have this experience with their doctors. You are the expert of your own body, so finding a doctor who is willing to listen to your thoughts and concerns is so important.

On this episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast, “Medical Cannabis & Arthritis,” Kevin Boehnke, PhD, University of Michigan School of Medicine, again joins my co-host Julie and me to talk about medical cannabis – also known as medical marijuana – and why the science community has shifted from this nomenclature. He will discuss research on the use of medical cannabis for arthritis and provide some guiding principles for you if you’re considering trying it for your arthritis symptoms. Tune in today.

Be sure to check out the Arthritis Foundation’s CBD Guidance for Adults With Arthritis for information, and use this as a starting point for a conversation with your doctor.



2020 Evening of Honors Highlights:

Recognizing Special Arthritis Foundation Volunteers in 2021

The Arthritis Foundation’s Conference of Champions — an annual gathering of volunteers, partners and other supporters — was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. But we thought it was very important to recognize some phenomenal achievements in the past year, despite the challenges everyone faced. So, belatedly, we held our 2020 Evening of Honors ceremony on Jan. 15, 2021 — live, virtually, online. Continue reading 2020 Evening of Honors Highlights:

Microbiome, Gut Health & Arthritis: Follow Your Gut?

By Rebecca Gillett, MS OTR/L, Live Yes! With Arthritis Co-host and arthritis patient

When you live with arthritis, you know there are only so many things you can control when it comes to managing your disease. Often when the subject of diet and nutrition comes up as it relates to arthritis, there can be some very strong opinions and beliefs within our patient community. My co-host, Julie Eller, and I often say people like to turn to diets for managing arthritis for this very reason. We can’t control what our arthritis brings each day when we wake up, but we can certainly control the foods we eat. Continue reading Microbiome, Gut Health & Arthritis: Follow Your Gut?

#WeLiveYes: Rachel’s COVID-19 Vaccine Journey

Getting Vaccinated for COVID-19

When I received an email inviting me to sign up for a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, I registered within minutes for a slot the very same day. My hands were shaking with excitement, even though I am absolutely terrified of needles. I chose to get vaccinated to protect myself as a 25-year-old immunocompromised woman with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I chose to get vaccinated because I provide telehealth social work services to COVID-19 patients and families, and the memories of this experience will weigh heavily on me forever. I chose to get vaccinated because I spent a month visiting my father in the ICU in pre-COVID times, and I had the privilege of sitting next to him every day as he recovered from cardiac arrest, long before visitor restrictions became the new norm. Although immunocompromised people were not included in the initial vaccine clinical trials, I trust my rheumatologist, who gave me the OK to get the vaccine. I take a weekly biologic injection as well as methotrexate and prednisone, and I am aware that this means the vaccine may be slightly less effective for me. I chose to get vaccinated because I strongly believe that the benefits outweigh the risks, and I hope that you will too. Continue reading #WeLiveYes: Rachel’s COVID-19 Vaccine Journey

Exciting Research in Rheumatology

As one of the five Arthritis Foundation Rheumatology Research Fellowship grant awardees for 2020, I have been fortunate to have had many opportunities to participate in research. I was excited not only to attend the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) virtual conference in November but honored to present some of the research I have been working on during my fellowship at Duke University. Continue reading Exciting Research in Rheumatology