BATON ROUGE – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is observing May as National Arthritis Awareness Month with health and wellness information for nearly 1 million Louisiana adults and 5,000 children who struggle with some form of arthritis.
Arthritis is one of the most widespread health conditions in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease, which can strike at any age, affects more than 54 million American adults and 300,000 children. It is the nation’s leading cause of disability. Arthritis is not a single disease but a family of more than 100 types of diseases that cause pain, aching, stiffness and swelling of the joints.
Arthritis and COVID-19
“Many forms of the disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, are autoimmune conditions that make patients more susceptible to infection,” said Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Emily Vincent. “In addition, many medications for arthritis suppress the immune system, so the COVID-19 pandemic poses real challenges for people with arthritis.”
Blue Cross healthcare staff and the Arthritis Foundation urge people with the condition to follow health and wellness guidelines to help them stay healthy during the pandemic. “These are basic tips,” Vincent said, “but they can be especially important to people with autoimmune diseases.”
The most important wellness tip for people with arthritis is to continue moving and exercising, with their doctor’s approval. Even light exercise helps strengthen the muscles, which in turn spares the joints. And many forms of exercise, such as yoga, stretching and low-impact aerobics, can be done at home. It’s easy to find step-by-step illustrations and videos online that demonstrate exercises.
Other suggestions include:
Read about these tips and more on the Blue Cross and Arthritis Foundation websites. Blue Cross also shares healthy eating tips through the Healthy Eating playlist, part of the Blue Cross YouTube channel. In this playlist of short videos, Blue Cross registered dietitians share tips for making nutrition a key component of good health.
Arthritis Foundation’s “Virtual Walk” on May 16
Blue Cross will participate with a team in a virtual awareness and fundraising event that—due to COVID-19 restrictions—will be held nationwide on May 16 in lieu of the Arthritis Foundation’s annual local walks. Participants are encouraged to walk or exercise on their own, with their doctors’ approval, then post pictures of their activities on social media. People can make and post a video or share their arthritis journeys in any other way they wish, using the hashtags #Move54 and #Tell54 to recognize the 54 million Americans with arthritis.
A unified online celebration will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. local time on the Arthritis Foundation’s Facebook page and will feature live conversations, shared stories, fun activities and mutual support for those who live with the disease.
Blue Cross Can Help
If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, Blue Cross’ care team is here to support you on the journey to optimal health. You may be able to work with a health coach who can give you personalized information, guidance and encouragement. There is no cost to work with a Blue Cross health coach. Visit www.bcbsla.com/Stronger to learn more about available programs and services, or how to sign up for health coaching.
For more information on what Blue Cross is doing for members during the COVID-19 situation, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19. For the latest information, guidance and data on COVID-19 in Louisiana, visit www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We were recognized in 2019 as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.
About the Arthritis Foundation:
The Arthritis Foundation is the Champion of Yes. Leading the fight for the arthritis community, the Foundation helps conquer everyday battles through life-changing information and resources, access to optimal care, advancements in science and community connections. The Arthritis Foundation’s goal is to chart a winning course, guiding families in developing personalized plans for living a full life—and making each day another stride toward a cure. The Foundation also publishes Arthritis Today, the award-winning magazine that reaches 4 million readers.