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Flying the flag for arthritis awareness

From left: Mayor-for-a-day Greg Barnes, Arthritis Society Fraser Region manager of education and services Trish Silvester-Lee and Langley City mayor Peter Fassbender raised a flag to mark the start of Arthritis Awareness Month at city hall on Monday (Sept. 1). - Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times
From left: Mayor-for-a-day Greg Barnes, Arthritis Society Fraser Region manager of education and services Trish Silvester-Lee and Langley City mayor Peter Fassbender raised a flag to mark the start of Arthritis Awareness Month at city hall on Monday (Sept. 1).
— image credit: Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times

Langley City mayor Peter Fassbender kicked off Arthritis Awareness Month by raising The Arthritis Society’s official flag in front of city hall Thursday morning (Sept. 1).

The flag will fly all month to help draw public attention to the painful chronic disease that affects nearly 4.5 four million Canadians, including over 600,000 people in B.C.

This month, the society is encouraging people to visit their new website at www.arthritisquiz.ca to complete a short quiz to help determine if aches and pains are in fact osteoarthritis (OA).

“Joint pain is a daily reality for millions of Canadians, but unfortunately many never follow up with their health-care provider,” said Trish Silvester-Lee with The Arthritis Society.

“Some think it’s an inevitable part of aging, others hope it will go away.”

Establishing an early diagnosis of osteoarthritis is critical, Silvester-Lee said, since it only gets progressively worse and therapies work best when started as early as possible.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than three million Canadians.

It occurs when cartilage, the tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones, begins to wear.

The result is pain, stiffness, swelling and bone-on-bone movement in the affected joint.

Joints commonly affected are the end joints of fingers, the middle joints of fingers, hips, knees and the neck (cervical spine).

While anyone can get OA, it is more common as we age.

Over 90 per cent of the more than 58,000 annual joint replacement surgeries in Canada result from the end stage of joint damage caused by OA.

While there is still no cure for OA, appropriate treatment and a healthy lifestyle can allow someone to take control of their disease.

“Managing body weight through physical activity and a balanced diet is the most effective way of reducing joint pain,” explained Silvester-Lee.

“Being overweight puts an extra burden on your weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, ankles and feet. Losing 10 pounds reduces the pressure on each knee by forty pounds.”

Over the last 60 years the society, a registered charity, has invested more than $175 million towards arthritis research to develop better treatments and one day find a cure.

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