Having an invisible illness is really difficult. It is difficult, also, when that invisible illness has a stigmatized word attached to it like 'arthritis.' Thankfully, the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) is working on changing the stigma by explaining to people that Still's Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other diseases are forms of autoimmune arthritis.
I have talked a bit about the differences between osteoarthritis (OA) and autoimmune arthritis (AA) in the past, but just to recap AA is caused by a malfunctioning immune system while OA is caused by aging, repetitive movements and injury. Both can be extremely painful and no one wants to downplay the pains of either kind. AA though is a systemic issue, which means for many of these diseases there can be effects on organs, skin, eyes, and even mental issues like brain fog. OA stays in the affected joint and doesn't have the ability to cause these extraneous issues.
The reason it is important to distinguish is to raise awareness of what those of us with autoimmune arthritis do go through. This is not the same arthritis that your grandmother faced - it is much different and can, without the correct treatment, cause permanent deformities, extra illnesses and issues, and even death. Despite the pains that OA causes, that is something it cannot cause.
On May 20th, IAAM will be hosting the first ever World Autoimmune Arthritis Day (WAAD)! This is a 47 hour long event covering all time zones where there will be live presentations, on-demand presentations, and chat sessions hosted by IAAM volunteers and prominent bloggers.
Including me! Whoo! I'll be presenting, in an on-demand presentation, tips on how to maximize your healthy time living with AA. I am really excited about my presentation and I hope that you all will join WAAD to learn more about autoimmune arthritis!
I know I have totally shared information on IAAM and WAAD recently. But it is an issue and a project that is very near and dear to my heart. I know too many children with autoimmune arthritis who shouldn't have to suffer the stigma and the misunderstandings associated with juvenile arthritis.
So please look into WAAD! It's going to be an amazing event with take away handouts you can access to help you remember the tips and tricks that IAAM and other contributors have to help make things easier.