Being diagnosed with a chronic condition can be a lonely, scary thing. Your visits to the doctor are brief and often impersonal, and your family, hard as they may try, can’t totally understand what you are going through.
The Importance of Joining an Arthritis Community
It’s important at each and every stage to seek out and join communities related to your diagnosis for several reasons. By talking about your diagnosis with others who are experiencing the same condition…
- You can gain valuable information that can help you with the physical treatment of your diagnosis. By reaching out, you are tapping into all of the years of experience the group collectively shares, and may find yourself getting very specific advice that creates very immediate results.
- You can express your feelings in appropriate ways. By keeping your feelings in you can actually make yourself feel worse, and this emotional distress will take a physical toll on your body. By reaching out, even if you don’t express your own feelings right away, you will find others going through a similar situation and sharing their feelings. This connectedness can help alleviate some of your emotional pain.
- You can help others by sharing your experience and becoming a mentor. This may not happen early in your diagnosis but, over time, you will gain more knowledge of your condition and how to treat it, and you will be able to share this knowledge with newly diagnosed people who are going through something similar to what you experienced in the past. This benevolence has healing qualities that are not to be taken lightly!
It is also important for family members of those with chronic conditions to connect with others who are going through a similar experience, especially if that family member is the designated caregiver. The benefits of these connections are the same: you can gain valuable information, you can express your feelings, and you may be able to help others.
With over 1.5 billion active users, Facebook is the biggest, most active gathering place for people online… and it’s not just about family and friends. The social network has an incredible feature for community building, called “groups,” where users from around the world create communities around different topics and issues.
The best part about these groups is that new posts show up directly in your feed, and people who reply to your posts will send you notifications, so your conversations in the groups are easy to follow. There are tons of active arthritis groups on Facebook, from general arthritis groups to groups more specific to individual conditions (just type “arthritis” in your search bar and you’ll see what we mean). Here are some of the largest Facebook groups for arthritis:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Squeaky Joints ©
- Arthritis and Fibromyalgia chat group
- Arthritis Sufferers United
- Mothering Juvenile Arthritis
- Living with Chronic Pain Support Group
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Laughing, Living, and Learning
- Living w/Rhumatoid Arthritis
- LIVING WITH RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
- RA Support Group
Inspire is a website hosting a wide range of health communities, including some of the largest arthritis-related communities on the internet. Inspire also has a very helpful search feature that will help you find the right community for you. For those of us that want a little more anonymity when joining a support group, an option like Inspire is perfect because it’s not tied directly to your Facebook account. There are specific communities for each subset, but here are five of the largest communities on Inspire generally related to arthritis:
- Arthritis Foundation
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Bones, Joints and Muscles
- Chronic Pain
- Diet, Fitness and Healthy Living
If you’re not ready to jump into an online community, it might be helpful to start by following arthritis influencers online. At Still Moving, we regularly share information about good foods and good fitness for arthritis. You can find us on almost any of your favorite social networks: