Vikki Scarafiotti discusses arthritis management, prevention, and the importance of awareness. Vikki is the executive director at the Arthritis Foundation Southwest.
Arthritis, only something old women need to think about, right? Think again. Today on EmpowHER, what every woman needs to know about arthritis.
Arthritis has been seen as an old person’s disease. I think that arthritis has not had, the perception of it is that it’s not that bad. Talk to somebody with arthritis. I’m fortunate to see the stories and hear the stories every day. The impact of arthritis on a life and on a family and on a husband are tremendous. And I would say that it’s time to raise our collective voice.
When we talk about the number of people who really talk about osteoarthritis first, followed by rheumatoid arthritis, and followed by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, but there are a lot of other types; 128 types, forms of arthritis.
And those other types may surprise you. While osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, other forms of arthritis are autoimmune disorders.
Lupus is included in that category, fibromyalgia, scleroderma, ankylosis spondylitis, giant cell arteritis.
I have a friend who had giant cell arteritis and so the arthritis landed in the muscles just behind her eyes, and it could cause blindness.
But advances are being made that give hope.
In the past ten years we’ve been able to almost stop any of the deterioration with those advances. And they are doing such great research; we’re in such cutting-edge. I do think that we’re going to find, in the next 20 to 30 years, the cause of many of the forms of arthritis and be able to stop it. I think we’re that close.
There’s right now a chance to manage it. I think there’s going to be a chance for early diagnoses. And then I think there’s going to be a chance, when we say cure in the autoimmune disease area, we are really talking about, not necessarily a cure but, understanding how to not start the cycle so that it won’t start; so it doesn’t start so you don’t have it, so you’re not curing it.
And there are things we can do to help us avoid osteoarthritis altogether.
More people have osteoarthritis than any other form of arthritis and now the studies tell us truly, it’s really about having a healthy lifestyle. A lot of osteoarthritis can be prevented. It’s a healthy lifestyle; losing ten pounds so that the weight-bearing joints are not carrying that weight. And the other think that they’re finding is, especially for women, women have been in the gyms and they’re using a lot of weights and the weights are too heavy, causing damage to the joints. So I heard an arthropod talk not too long ago and said, he is seeing too many young women, in their 30s and 40s, who are going to the gym and while we think weight training is good, and it is good, you should do weight training based on your size and on a frame of a woman. He said, because we are seeing a lot of injuries and a lot of joint damage just from that.
So, it’s knowledge, it’s information, and a lot of it is being able to say, “We can prevent some of the osteoarthritis that’s so prevalent today.” Say arthritis deserves the national attention that it needs. It needs the dollars for research, it needs support systems for the people who have it, and I think we should not be silent any more about ‘it’s somebody else’s disease’ because your mother or your sister or your neighbor has it and I think we should speak in a loud voice. I think we could change much and do great things if we did that together.
A wonderful opportunity for us to advocate together.
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