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Each year, on 12 October, World Arthritis Day is observed to raise global awareness around this sometimes-debilitating condition and how it impacts the lives of the children and adults with it.
Arthritis statistics around Australia
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent release about arthritis (2017-18 financial year) revealed that 3.6 million Australians were impacted by arthritis, which is 15% of the population.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the bones, joints and muscles. People with arthritis experience pain, redness, swelling and stiffness in the affected joints. The condition can be mild to severe and debilitating, and symptoms can come and go or may be ever-present, making it difficult for the sufferer to move or maintain their daily activities. There is no known cure for arthritis, but many treatments for pain alleviation.
The most common types of arthritis that affect Australians are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Although arthritis is mostly known to develop in adults ages 40-60, unfortunately, it can also affect children, which is known as juvenile arthritis. Other forms include ankylosing spondylitis, lupus and scleroderma.
Causes and treatments for arthritis
To date, the causes of arthritis are not fully understood. A fault in the immune system could be responsible, which causes the body to attack its joint tissues, which can be genetically inherited. People who smoke and don’t engage in enough physical activity are more likely to develop arthritis.
Treatment for arthritis is aimed at alleviating pain, controlling symptoms and preventing damage to the joints. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help, and DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) can help to slow down the disease. For those with severe cases of arthritis, surgery may be required to repair or replace damaged joints.
Diet is also important in the fight against arthritis. Some evidence exists that healthy monounsaturated and omega-3 fats can help reduce symptoms. Avoiding fatty, sugary foods is advised to prevent weight gain, and calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, fish, nuts and seeds are recommended for strong bones.
Regular exercise assists in keeping muscles strong to support the joints, reducing stiffness, pain and tension in the joints, and improving sleep.
People who live with arthritis should consult their GP, an exercise physiologist or a physiotherapist for an exercise program that is most beneficial for their particular condition.
Support for people with arthritis
According to Arthritis Australia, arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions are the leading causes of disability and chronic pain in Australia, accounting for 30.4% of all people with disability.
People with arthritis may have different support needs depending on the severity of their condition and how it impacts their daily life. These may include:
- Personal care
- Support with physical activity and exercise
- Domestic assistance
- Travel support and transport
- Social and community participation.
Those who are eligible for the NDIS might be able to receive NDIS funding for support with arthritis.
Funding may be available for home modifications to help maximise the person’s independence and make the activities of daily living more manageable. It may also contribute to the costs of aids and equipment that help make living with arthritis easier.
Find and book a support worker for help with arthritis
If you or a loved one lives with arthritis, independent support workers on Mable can make life easier, more manageable, comfortable, and more meaningful. You can use your NDIS funding or home care package funding to find and book support workers.
From domestic support such as gardening or cleaning and companionship to providing transportation to appointments to in-home allied health consultations and even nursing and mental health services, support workers on Mable can help in many different ways.
By booking through Mable, you become part of the Mable community and are safeguarded throughout your support journey.
It’s important to note that you can still access support through Mable as a privately paying client while awaiting approval for a Home Care Package or NDIS plan or if you are not eligible for funding.
Arthritis can be an immensely painful condition to live with, but there are things you can do to support yourself or a loved one living with the condition.
These could include regular checkups with a GP to ensure your joints are healthy, keeping an eye out for signs of difficulty in day-to-day life that you or a loved one might be facing that could indicate the need for support, or simply talking to your friends and family about it.
You can connect with these arthritis organisations for more information:
- Arthritis Australia
- MYRA (Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Program)
- MYAS (Axial Spondyloarthritis Support Program)
- MyPsA (Psoriatic Arthritis Support Program)
- Juvenile Arthritis Foundation Australia
- Musculoskeletal Australia
- Arthritis Queensland, Arthritis NSW, Arthritis Tasmania, Arthritis ACT, Arthritis SA, Arthritis WA.