Arthritis Collage

(Photo Courtesy: Web MD)


Dear Diary,


My friend Christine at Moms ‘N Charge recently recruited me to help raise awareness about arthritis. She’s spearheading the online promotional plan for Purses with Power-an event occurring in the nation’s capital tomorrow. Purses with Power is a “girls night out”themed event where attendees network, socialize and shop while supporting a worthy cause. I’m  unable to drive down, but I want to intend in spirit. The topic intrigued me, especially after learning that arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States and affects women nearly twice as often as men.  At first, I pictured my grandmother who suffered from arthritis as a senior citizen.  But she’s not the only face of arthritis.  There are many moms dealing with the pain.   While researching, I found five things that I think all moms should know about arthritis.  


You Don’t Have to Be a Senior Citizen to Suffer

According to the Mayo Clinic, Rheumatoid arthritis is much more common in women than in men and generally occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. The condition is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. The folks over at the Arthritis Foundation report that the cause is not yet known, but if you suspect symptoms, you should go to your doctor’s for a diagnosis. Your physician will perform a physical examination and look for signs, such as swelling, warmth and limited motion in joints throughout your body, as well as nodules or lumps under the skin. Your doctor may also ask if you have experienced fatigue or stiffness, and you may need a few blood tests and X-rays.


Breastfeeding Could Reduce Your Risk 

A study from Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that breastfeeding for two years cut the risk in half, while nursing for 12 to 23 months lowered risk by 20 percent. Breastfeeding seems to permanently alter levels of female sex hormones, like estrogen and certain androgens, thought to play a role in RA. If you are an RA sufferer who is nursing, proper positioning is extremely important. Use pillows to help position your baby in a way that doesn’t stress your joints. A baby sling is also helpful.


You’re Not Alone! You Can Join the RA Chicks Club.

A support group of parents with Rheumatoid arthritis is just a click away.  Currently, more than a thousand women chat about suffering and support online at RA Chicks. The site provides information on everything from diet and exercise to sleep and street.  After you read an article, you can check in with the online community. You can ever take the pledge to raise awareness about this debilitating disease.


You Can Prevent Joint Damage

Although there is no known prevention of rheumatoid arthritis, you can lessen the amount of joint damage the condition causes.  Doctors recommend that you get treated early and see your rheumatologist regularly and get treated early.  You can also exercise, which makes your joints stronger.  Just make sure your plan is safe and effective. And carry a cane.  This reduces the wear-and-tear on the affected joint.


You Can Get Some Shut Eye

Studies show that about a third of people suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis experience disrupted or poor-quality sleep. Nighttime pain and inflammation can make falling asleep challenging–especially for new parents already waking up throughout the night with a new baby. So, how can you get some shut eye? Arthritis experts advise taking a hot bath before bedtime, purchasing a memory foam pillow and reducing the weight of comforters and blankets.


 Click here to purchase tickets.

Purses with power

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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