From volunteering to social media sharing, there are many ways to raise awareness about arthritis.
Canva; Everyday Health
In the United States, more than 54 million people have arthritis, a term that covers a wide variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis , gout , rheumatoid arthritis, and more than 100 other health issues that cause joint pain and stiffness. This May during Arthritis Awareness Month, wear blue to support awareness of the disease that affects nearly one-quarter of all U.S. adults .
“Arthritis Awareness month is an important time to stop and recognize the impact that arthritis has on individuals living with these conditions," says the rheumatologist Alexis Ogdie-Beatty, MD , an associate professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and a medical adviser to CreakyJoints , a support, education, advocacy, and research organization for people living with arthritis and rheumatic disease. “Cancer gets a lot of press and research dollars because people understand the impact that cancer has on a patient and the patient’s loved ones. Though it's significantly more common, the general public has a harder time appreciating that arthritis can be just as impactful on a patient’s life and also impacts the family.”
Arthritis Awareness Days
It can be challenging to live with a lifelong chronic disease, but you can learn more and find support with these dedicated awareness days. “Arthritis Awareness Day is a great opportunity to raise consciousness about arthritis, because so many within the arthritis community are mobilized to amplify this message,” says Seth D. Ginsberg , a cofounder and the president of the Global Healthy Living Foundation. “This is an opportunity to support the community with education, advocacy, and research opportunities, and to shine a spotlight on the causes and the ways to manage the different types of arthritis.”
World Arthritis Awareness Day Is October 12, 2022
Although Arthritis Awareness Month happens in May, the global World Arthritis Awareness Day takes place annually on October 12 . Organizations and patient-advocates schedule activities to promote awareness of arthritis symptoms and shed light on the significance of early diagnosis, so that early medical treatment may help prevent the advancement of the disease.
For Stacy Courtnay , a patient-advocate in Atlanta who works closely with the Arthritis Foundation, a day like World Arthritis Day can also reach people who aren’t familiar with arthritis, and help redefine what the disease could mean to a person, beyond common stereotypical notions.
“The misconception is that when you hear ‘arthritis,’ you think of osteoarthritis , which is an old person’s disease,” says Courtnay. “The reality is that there are a lot of different types of arthritis, which are autoimmune diseases that affect your body in so many different ways — more than just your joints.” Educating people about the different types of arthritis, she says, is important.
More Arthritis Awareness Days and Campaigns to Note
Invisible Disabilities Awareness Week is October 16–22, 2022.
Annual Community Walks, Runs, and Bike Tours in Support of Arthritis
The Arthritis Foundation sponsors a Walk to Cure Arthritis fundraiser in communities around the country every year. And if you are an experienced runner, you may be able to join a charity team at one of the large city marathons, like the one in New York City.
2022 Walk to Cure Arthritis Atlanta
Whether you walk for yourself or in support of a loved one, Walk to Cure Arthritis Atlanta is taking place on Saturday, May 7, at Brook Run Park. Register for the walk and form a team of friends and family to raise funds for those in need.
2022 Walk to Cure Arthritis Boston
Bostonians will pull together in support of those with arthritis at the 2022 Walk to Cure Arthritis Boston at Herter Park on Sunday, June 12, 2022. You can connect with others who want to work for a better future for those who have arthritis or love someone who does.
2022 Walk to Cure Arthritis Cincinnati
Walk to Cure Arthritis Cincinnati is taking place on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at Sawyer Point Park. And if you don’t feel like walking, you can sign up to be a volunteer.
2022 Walk to Cure Arthritis St. Louis
This community’s flagship arthritis fundraising event, Walk to Cure Arthritis St. Louis takes place on Friday, May 20, 2022, at Logan University.
2022 Walk to Cure Arthritis Pittsburgh
This year’s event will take place on Sunday, May 22, 2022, at Boyce Park Four Seasons Activity Center/Ski Lodge.
2022 California Coast Classic Bike Tour + Arthritis Challenge Experience
The California Coast Classic (CCC) Bike Tour is a fully-supported boutique cycling tour from San Francisco to Los Angeles limited to 250 riders to raise funds annually for the Arthritis Foundation. The event takes place from September 10–17, 2022.
Jingle Bell Run (5K Walk-Run)
Located in cities and towns around the country, this festive 5K can be walked or jogged, and there are also 1-mile options for kids. Find out more at the Arthritis Foundation .
Racing for a Cure
Sponsored by the Arthritis National Research Foundation, Racing for a Cure welcomes teams of all abilities and activities, including walkers, runners, triathletes, cyclists, hikers, and swimmers. You can join an existing team or start a team or event in your local area.
Conferences and Meetings on Arthritis Research
American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting
Juvenile Arthritis Conference
European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR)
Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance Annual Scientific Meeting
American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting
The American College of Rheumatology is a professional membership organization that helps improve the care of patients with rheumatic disease and advancing the field of rheumatology. Their in-person and virtual 2022 annual meeting takes place November 10 to 14.
Juvenile Arthritis National Conference
Yes, kids can get arthritis too. The Arthritis Foundation’s virtual Juvenile Arthritis Conference , July 14–17, 2022, is where kids and their families gather to learn more about juvenile arthritis and other rheumatic disease, and they can swap stories and share advice on how to make life easier with this condition.
European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR)
EULAR stands the European League Against Rheumatism, and its annual meeting brings together doctors, scientists, and patients from across Europe and around the world. The focus is improving the well-being of people with, or who are affected by, rheumatic musculoskeletal diseases. The 2022 Congress will take place in-person and virtually June 1–4 in Copenhagen.
Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA) Annual Scientific Meeting
CARRA’s mission is to conduct research to help prevent, treat, and cure pediatric rheumatic diseases . The 2022 in-person and virtual annual meeting takes place April 11 to May 3, 2022.
Volunteer and Partner With a Local Health Center
Whether you or a family member is living with arthritis, or you just want to lend a helping hand, many opportunities exist for you to help in the fight against arthritis.
Intent on finding a cure, the Arthritis Foundation is focused on advocacy, science, and community. They have many volunteer opportunities available, such as advocating for change in government policies and funding, fundraising efforts, and awareness about juvenile arthritis. To find out more specific ways you can help, you can also contact your local Arthritis Foundation office .
Spread Awareness About Arthritis
In addition to donating or volunteering directly, spreading awareness about joint health issues in social circles is a great way to fight back against the disease.
Tips About Living With Arthritis, From Real People Like You
David Jacobson was diagnosed with psoriasis when he was in high school, but doctors didn’t recognize his psoriatic arthritis (PsA) until he was 22. “Because I was an athlete during college, my doctors missed the psoriatic arthritis diagnosis , blaming the joint pain on me being an athlete and on the judo team,” he says. Today he is a professional speaker on leadership, humor, and health, and he is focused on the use of therapeutic humor and how he can change the way he thinks about his diagnosis.
Learn More About David Jacobson’s Story of Living With Arthritis
Ever since she was a little girl, people told Charis Hill she should be a model. “I never took it seriously,” she says. “My response was always, ‘No, I like to eat!’” But after graduating college, Hill began to explore modeling. It was around that time that Hill discovered that her constant pain was the result of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) — a chronic form of inflammation that leads to severe pain in her spine and joints. “When I was first diagnosed, I was reeling; it turned my world upside down. I started telling my story as a way to cope.” Her blog, BeingCharis.com , is a place where people can read about the constant struggle of navigating the world when you suffer chronic pain.
Learn More About Charis Hill’s Story of Living With Arthritis and Advocating for Spondyloarthritis Awareness
Raise Funds to Raise Arthritis Awareness
Raising funds for arthritis awareness organizations helps them continue to educate the public and search for better treatment methods. Registering for an awareness walk (or donating to one) is one way to help earn funds for arthritis organizations, but you can also host your own run or walk, lemonade stand, trivia day, or karaoke event. The Arthritis Foundation has all kinds of ideas on how to DIY fundraise for the cause.
Facebook also allows you to create a donation page for your birthday, so your friends and followers can give you the gift of a donation.
Share Experiences, Advice, and Resources on Social Media
Being online is an effective way to advocate for people with arthritis. “People can find a way to express their voice, and that can come from talking, writing, and contributing in any way they can to educate others on the disease process itself,” says Jackson Rainer, PhD, a psychologist at the Care and Counseling Center in Decatur, Georgia.
The Rheumatoid Arthritis Support group on Facebook has more than 59,000 followers who share information and encouragement to fight the often painful disease. The Arthritis Foundation also has a page where they post about news, events, and encouragement for both patients and caregivers. And CreakyJoints, an organization for those with all forms of arthritis and rheumatic disease, has a Facebook community of more than 116,000 people. On Twitter, you can look for, or post, tweets containing hashtags such as #Arthritis, #ArthritisAwareness, #KidsGetArthritis.
Get Political About Arthritis
Call your senator, congressperson, and local government and tell them to support healthcare measures that would address the high costs of treatment, difficulty accessing medication, scarcity of specialists , and coinsurance that limits access to treatment.
If you are able to show up at a representative’s office in person or are able to get downtown in your nearest city, do it. Local district offices are there to serve their constituents and they often will listen more closely to people who live in their district.
And if you join a national organization, they can give you a heads-up about upcoming marches and pieces of legislation that are in testimony, as people with arthritis may need more time to plan logistics if they want to show up at a demonstration or hearing.
Get Involved in Research Studies and Clinical Trials for Arthritis
If you have arthritis, you can help researchers discover better treatments by participating in clinical trials. Healthcare providers are always searching for ways to treat and cure arthritis to help improve the quality of life for those diagnosed with the condition. For more information about clinical trials for arthritis near you, visit ClinicalTrials.gov or CenterWatch.com .
Here’s a list of other research and clinical trial resources:
FORWARD , The National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases