If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the disease. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness for the condition — particularly in May, which is Arthritis Awareness Month.
It can be hard when your friends and family don’t know what you’re going through. It can also feel difficult to say no to loved ones who don’t understand your situation because you might worry about how your relationships will be affected.
Raising awareness about RA is important so your friends, family, and acquaintances can better understand how to support you. Check out five ways that you can get involved with RA awareness.
RA is an inflammatory autoimmune condition. The immune system mistakenly attacks the joints (usually the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, ankles, and knees) in the same way that it would normally fight viruses or bacteria. With RA, the damage is typically symmetrical — for example, both knees or both ankles are usually affected.
RA is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis, affecting more than 1.3 million people in the United States. RA affects women about three times as often as men, according to the Arthritis Foundation, and it typically develops between the ages of 30 and 60.
Treatment of RA is typically aimed at modulating the immune system to calm inflammation, reduce autoimmune attacks on the joints, and ease symptoms (such as pain and swelling) while avoiding side effects. Some RA treatment options are taken orally and others are administered by injection.
After you’re armed with information about RA, you can share it with others. The fastest and least expensive way for this kind of advocacy is through social media. You can post information about RA, share details about the condition, and join communities of other people who are also working to raise awareness about RA.
To ensure your messages on social media spread awareness to as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate RA-related hashtag, like #RheumatoidArthritis, #ArthritisAwareness, #RAWarrior, or #ArthritisAwarenessMonth. This way, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same interests, and they’re more likely to share and comment.
Social media posts help raise awareness for the condition, and posting also allows other people with RA to realize they aren’t alone. Joining a RA community on social media, such as myRAteam, can also help you connect with others.
“Seems we need much more awareness and research dollars,” one myRAteam member wrote. Another said, “Raise awareness, warriors, and may everyone have a pain-free day!”
Another way to raise awareness about RA is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can walk or run for RA, play bingo, host a silent auction or fundraiser, or even create a unique event that works for your interests. You can help other people understand more about RA while having fun and working to raise funds for the cause.
If you are able to, you can also donate to the Arthritis Foundation to support RA research and advocacy.
Even if you aren’t able to donate, you can stay on top of the scientific research and legislative actions that come out of the donation efforts by following the Arthritis Foundation online.
On myRAteam, more than 186,000 people living with rheumatoid arthritis come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your rheumatoid arthritis journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.