October 12 marks World Arthritis Day globally, each year.
This day exists for people globally who live with the disease, and it aims to raise awareness about the condition.
Arthritis is an illness that causes inflammation in the joints and there are over 100 forms.
The most common types are Osteoarthritis (OA), which happens over time due to a wearing down of isolated joint surfaces and Rheumatoid Arthritis, which means that the immune system attacks the joints itself internally, rather than intruders.
Arthritis is a disease that cannot be cured, only managed through medication and physiotherapy.
Despite common misconceptions that only elderly people suffer with Arthritis, people from any age can acquire the disease.
The diagnosis of children or any person who is under the age of 18 is ‘Juvenile Arthritis’.
World Arthritis Day is an opportunity for recognition of every person, of any age, who lives and manages Arthritis in its many forms.
I spoke to Limerick native and iCAN (Irish Children’s Arthritis Network) advocate, Wendy Costelloe, about World Arthritis Day 2021.
“Our mission [on World Arthritis Day] is to raise awareness, support families and advocate for better services [across Ireland].”
“Juvenile Arthritis can be a lonely and frustrating journey for any family. Waiting lists are now at two years for initial diagnosis, and early intervention is key,” Wendy said.
The iCAN group is voluntary run and was established in 2013 by both parents and children living with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, which is the most common variant that kids are diagnosed with.
A 24-hour helpline that is managed by volunteers who want to make a positive difference to those struggling or affected by a JIA diagnosis is available, as well as parent reps and active youth groups in every county.
Arthritis Ireland is a support group designed for all ages, whereas iCAN is specifically for young people and children who require assistance with a recent diagnosis or medical advice.
If you are concerned that a loved one might be suffering from Arthritis, please contact a local GP for information.
Some symptoms include slow walking, tender, hot or swollen joints or rash.
Find out more about iCAN here: https://icanireland.ie/ or call 0868289817
Find out more about Arthritis Ireland here: https://www.arthritisireland.ie/