From Motion to Immobilized to Back on their Feet – Community Focus

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Information and Education along an Arthritis Journey

There are over 100 types of arthritis that affect the body. The one thing they all have in common is that they are very painful.”

There are 1 in 5 Canadians living with arthritis — that’s 6 million people.

Many people dismiss arthritis as a condition of older adulthood, but arthritis can strike at any age, gender or race. What’s more, the prevalence of arthritis is on the rise. By 2040, those numbers are expected to rise by 50 per cent.

Arthritis is defined as inflammation of the joints that causes swelling, stiffness, reduced range of motion and severe pain that can affect your entire body. It’s a pain that might creep up slowly with a dull, mild discomfort in your joints. Or it might rage suddenly without warning, bringing on a stabbing intensity as sharp as a knife. The pain might come and go, or it may last hours.

As you can imagine, arthritis can be crippling. And no one knows that more intimately than Herrat Zahner.

An unexpected, sudden change

In her 50s, Herrat was driving home to Calgary from Red Deer when suddenly her hands began to swell, she couldn’t bend her fingers around the steering wheel and she fell into an incredible amount of pain. She pulled over and called for help. By the next morning, she couldn’t even get out of bed; she was completely immobilized.

By the time she saw a doctor, Herrat’s list of conditions included:

  • Extreme pain in every joint of her body
  • Inability to move at all
  • Inability to function without the use of painkillers

Always one to take the bull by the horns, Herrat went in search of answers to help improve her condition. She quickly ran into multiple dead-ends. Where could she — and others with similar conditions — go to get the information and support they needed? To help them manage her pain and regain mobility? Through emotional peaks and valleys of frustration, loss of hope and depression, Herrat eventually founded the Arthritis Support Group to be a source of connection, support and quality information for arthritis sufferers so they can lead the highest quality life possible.

“Teaching others to help themselves has helped me.”

Movement is key

Once Herrat regained some mobility, she made it a point to get back to physical activity and changed her diet to support optimal health. Today, Herrat’s arthritis is in remission, she is off pain medications and is enjoying life in her 90s. Her age and condition haven’t slowed her down. She maintains an active lifestyle with regular exercise by making walking a daily part of her routine. She is still actively leading the Arthritis Support Group and helping to connect with others with the support and information they need.

She’s looking forward to enjoying her 90s  — and beyond — made all the sweeter having gone through her challenging experiences.

Herrat’s top takeaways for patients living with arthritis:

  • Community is key to both your health and your happiness.
  • Don’t be afraid to be your own advocate.
  • Do your research and ask questions.

There is a significant information gap about bone and joint health in Alberta; MAP to MOTION is our chance to fill this gap. With support from our partners, MAP to MOTION will link information from all the different bone and joint services that Albertan patients need, acting as a central hub of data for bone and joint knowledge. By capturing and analyzing the data, healthcare providers can develop more personalized, more effective treatment plans that support the overall wellbeing of patients.

The first of its kind in the world, MAP to MOTION partners with researchers to provide clear and comprehensive information to healthcare providers as they work to create innovative solutions to improved bone and joint patient care.