September is the month to debunk myths about arthritis

Flag raised outside Langley City Hall to draw awareness to the disease which affects people of all ages

Trish Silvester-Lee, manager of education and services with the Arthritis Society's Fraser Region and Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender prepare to raise the Arthritis Society flag in front of City Hall on Thursday morning.

Trish Silvester-Lee, manager of education and services with the Arthritis Society's Fraser Region and Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender prepare to raise the Arthritis Society flag in front of City Hall on Thursday morning.

There are a number of myths circulating about arthritis, and September — Arthritis Awareness Month — is the perfect time to clear a few of them up, says Trish Silvester-Lee.

The manager of education and services with the Arthritis Society’s Fraser Region was at City Hall in Langley on Thursday morning to help Mayor Peter Fassbender kick off the month-long campaign with a flag raising ceremony in front of the building on Douglas Crescent.

The theme of this year’s event is Debunking Myths, Silvester-Lee explained.

“Everyone thinks (arthritis) is a senior’s — an elderly person’s — disease, but it affects all ages,” she said.

She has seen babies as young as two months old diagnosed with a juvenile form of the disease that affects nearly 4.6 million Canadians, including more than 600,000 people in B.C.

Another misconception is that there is only one type of arthritis, when in fact there are more than 100 forms of the disease, falling into two categories — inflammatory or degenerative.

“It’s not just about aches and pains, it’s lifestyle change, mobility (problems), fatigue,” said Silvester-Lee.

And because it can take so many forms, she added, it can be difficult to detect.

“If you have pain, and you don’t know where it’s coming from — it’s not sports related — you might want to get it checked out,” she advised.

The disease does, in fact affect people of all ages in all walks of life, agreed Fassbender, who revealed that his own wife has a form of the disease which compromises her vision.

“We need to continue getting the message out that arthritis is a debilitating disease that touches people in profound ways,” he said.

The Fraser Arthritis Centre which, with the exception of Silvester-Lee, is run entirely by volunteers, is located in the Langley Mall at #101-5501 204 St.

For more information, visit the Arthritis Society website at www.arthritis.ca or call 604-514-9902.

The Arthritis Society has a number of events coming up in Langley.

• On Sept. 20, they will host a free information session titled Arthritis 101. Learn more about what arthritis is and how to manage the disease. The session will take place at the Renaissance Retirement Residence, 6676 203 St. from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 604-514-9902 to register.

• From Sept. 27 to Nov. 1 the society will host a series of six sessions titled Take Control of Your Arthritis, held from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. each Thursday. The seminar at the Renaissance Retirement Residence, 6676 203 St. will help arthritis sufferers “take control and feel the results.” Call 604-714-5550 to register. Cost is $25.

• On Oct. 27 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Learn to Live Well with Rheumatoid Arthritis, during a free public forum at Douglas Recreation Centre, 20550 Douglas Cres. This session will cover how to cope with chronic pain and manage fatigue, while discovering the value and benefits of physical activity. Call 604-714-5550 or toll free 1-866-414-7766 to register.