May 03, 2021
More than 54 million U.S. adults and almost 300,000 children live with chronic pain caused by arthritis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, their symptoms have been exacerbated by anxiety and fear, leading to more depressed days, according to a new report by The Arthritis Foundation.
"While pain is still the No. 1 challenge facing the arthritis community, the COVID-19 pandemic made managing it all the more difficult," said Steven Taylor, executive vice president of missions and strategic initiatives for the Arthritis Foundation.
"So many patients were unable to partake in activities to help treat their pain, and many were living in fear with already compromised immune systems."
To help people with arthritis manage their chronic pain and feel more supported as the pandemic continues, the foundation is launching a new app, called Vim, later this month.
The free app will allow patients to set six-week goals and includes a tracking function to monitor progress. It also will offer educational resources customized to each user's specific condition and will aim to provide a community of support and encouragement.
"By definition, 'vim' means energy and enthusiasm, and that's exactly what the app is meant to be," Taylor said. "The app will provide patients with constant companionship and inspiration to take back what pain has stolen from them over the years."
Vim will be available for iOS and Android devices. A specific release date has not been announced, but interested people can sign up at arthritis.org/Vim to be notified of its release.
The Arthritis Foundation also released the findings from its second annual How It Hurts Report, which found arthritis patients reported feeling more fatigue and poorer sleep quality than they did the previous year. They also said starting new tasks had become more difficult, leading to more depressed days.
Based on the data collected, the Arthritis Foundation said four out of five arthritis patients have more trouble functioning physically than the general population.
The report also found that socioeconomic status, access to care, language barriers and other factors affect people's pain and ability to function. The researchers found that 83% of patients with an income of less than $15,000 per year experience greater disability from the pain.
The report was based on survey responses from 40,000 U.S. patients participating in an ongoing study being conducted by the foundation. Half of them were collected from December 2019 to October.
Besides pain medicine, the Mayo Clinic recommends full-body stretching, practicing good posture and moving gently to manage chronic pain. Meditation and relaxation techniques can also help.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of the disease that causes the cartilage at the end of the bones break down. It is more common in older people.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks the lining in joints, causing damage to cartilage and bone.
People living with arthritis experience pain, swelling and stiffness in their joints that can affect their daily physical functioning.