Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month
September 1 – September 30 CDT
Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month is observed in September. The Rheumatic Disease Awareness campaign is an effort to increase public understanding and awareness of the symptoms, risk factors, treatment options, personal and economic impact, and the lifestyle and healthcare challenges associated with rheumatic diseases.
With rheumatic diseases now regarded as the nation’s leading cause of disability, affecting nearly one in four Americans, the American College of Rheumatology has designated September as Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month to call greater attention to this growing healthcare crisis.
More than 52 million Americans, young and old, live with rheumatic diseases. Today, more than 300,000 children are among the millions of Americans suffering from chronic, progressive and often debilitating illnesses that are frequently under-diagnosed, or misdiagnosed, due to unusual symptoms and a national shortage of trained rheumatologists.
As the nation’s leading cause of disability, rheumatic diseases cost the U.S. healthcare system more than $128 billion each year. Rheumatic diseases – which include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, gout, Sjögren’s, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and hundreds of lesser-known conditions – are painful diseases that affect the body’s joints and muscles. Some, like osteoarthritis, are the result of cartilage breakdown in the body’s joints. Others, like RA and lupus, are autoimmune conditions.
Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month educates the public that, because rheumatic disease symptoms can be difficult to pinpoint and are sometimes dismissed as merely the aches and pains of getting older, people living with these diseases may go years before seeking treatment or receiving a correct diagnosis. Although there is no cure for rheumatic disease, early intervention by a trained rheumatologist can help patients manage symptoms and maintain a normal quality of life.