World Arthritis Day was established in 1996 by Arthritis and Rheumatism International and is celebrated each year on 12th October. The aims of World Arthritis Day are to raise awareness of the issues affecting people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) and to ensure all people with RMDs and their caregivers are alerted to the vast support network available to them.
RMDs comprise over 150 diseases and syndromes, which are usually progressive and associated with pain. They are leading causes of morbidity and disability, giving rise to enormous healthcare expenditures and loss of work. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one such chronic disease that affects the joints, connective tissues, muscle, tendons and fibrous tissue. The World Health Organisation states that, within 10 years of onset, at least 50% of patients in developed countries are unable to hold down a full-time job.
Although people with RA may have difficulty being physically active due to symptoms of pain and stiffness, studies have shown that exercise has beneficial effects on disease severity as it inhibits disease progression without inducing flares. Indeed, a recent study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy finds that physical activity and disease activity are important predictors of hospital admissions and length of hospitalization in RA patients, suggesting lifestyle changes combined with effective pharmacological therapy may improve health and economic outcomes.
Recognizing the physical and mental benefits of exercise, World Arthritis Day’s 2011 campaign focuses on encouraging people with RMDs to “Move to Improve”. You can visit the World Arthritis Day website for more information about this campaign and to read about activities that will be happening around the world.