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The month of May is observed as “National Arthritis Awareness Month” in the United States. Spearheaded by the Arthritis Foundation, the month-long campaign is dedicated to raising awareness about arthritis – a chronic joint disease and the issues involved. Regarded as one of the most widespread health conditions in the United States, arthritis affects more than 54 million Americans. It is estimated that 1 in 4 Americans has arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that occurs due to inflammation of one of more of your joints. It can be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or gout – which are the major types. Early identification of symptoms and associated risk factors can help determine the best treatment options possible. Treatment modalities for this condition vary and depend on the type of arthritis. Treatment modalities include a combination of medications, physical therapy, and usage of splints/braces. Rheumatologists or orthopedic specialists treating this joint condition must also ensure that arthritis medical billing and coding is properly done on the medical claims. For correct clinical documentation of this condition, physicians can consider utilizing medical billing services.

Living with a life-long chronic joint disease like arthritis can be challenging. The 2021 campaign is a unique platform to stop and recognize the impact that arthritis has on individuals living with these conditions. The campaign offers an opportunity to support the community with education, support, advocacy, and research opportunities, and to shine a spotlight on the causes and ways to manage different types of arthritis. Reduction in the normal amount of cartilage tissue is one of the most common causes associated with the condition. Other causes include excessive physical activity, genetic predispositions, auto immune disorders, obesity, and sports impact injuries.

Arthritis, in most general cases, is commonly seen in adults over the age of 65, but it can also develop in children, teens, and younger adults. It is more common in women than men and also in people who are overweight. The joint condition can affect one joint or multiple joints. In most cases, symptoms usually develop over time, but they may also appear suddenly. Common symptoms of this condition include – joint pain, stiffness, swelling and redness, and reduced range of motion. The pain can be extremely debilitating and prevent people from performing routine normal tasks.

As part of the month-long campaign, organizations and patient advocates will promote awareness of arthritis symptoms and shed light on the significance of early diagnosis to receive medical treatment and thereby help prevent the advancement of the disease as soon as possible. Diagnosis of this condition begins with a detailed physical examination to check for fluid around the joints, warm or red joints, and limited range of motion in the joints. Joint specialists may extract and analyze inflammation levels in the blood and joint fluids to determine what kind of arthritis a person suffers from. Depending on the type of arthritis, rheumatologists may recommend imaging tests like – X-ray, Computerized tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or Ultrasound. In addition, blood tests that check for specific types of antibodies like anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide), RF (rheumatoid factor), and ANA (antinuclear antibody) may also be performed as part of the diagnosis.

Treatment for arthritis include a combination of medications and physical therapy. Medications prescribed will vary depending on the type of arthritis. Commonly prescribed arthritis medications include – Analgesics, Biologic response modifiers, Corticosteroids, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and Counterirritants. Physical therapy exercises can improve the range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints. In some cases, splints or braces may also be advised. If any of these conservative measures don’t yield the desired results, physicians may recommend surgical options like – joint repair, joint fusion and joint replacement.

The diagnosis, screening tests, and other procedures recommended by treating physicians must be carefully documented using the appropriate medical codes. Medical coding services provided by a reputable medical coding company can help physicians in using the right ICD-10 codes for their medical billing process. ICD-10 codes for different types of arthritis include –

  • M00 Pyogenic arthritis
  • M01 Direct infections of joint in infectious and parasitic diseases classified elsewhere
  • M02 Postinfective and reactive arthropathies
  • M05 Rheumatoid arthritis with rheumatoid fac…
  • M06 Other rheumatoid arthritis
  • M07 Enteropathic arthropathies
  • M08 Juvenile arthritis
  • M10 Gout
  • M11 Other crystal arthropathies
  • M12 Other and unspecified arthropathy
  • M13 Other arthritis
  • M14 Arthropathies in other diseases classified elsewhere
  • M1A Chronic gout
  • M15 – Polyosteoarthritis
  • M16 – Osteoarthritis of hip
  • M17 – Osteoarthritis of knee
  • M18 – Osteoarthritis of first carpometacarpal joint
  • M19 – Other and unspecified osteoarthritis

As part of the 2021 month-long campaign, a wide-range of awareness and fund-raising activities will be organized by the Arthritis Foundation. The Arthritis Foundation sponsors a “Walk to Cure Arthritis” fundraiser in communities around the country every year. The event typically comprises teams of at least 10 walkers. Teams can comprise friends, families, co-workers, and vendors who walk to raise money for the event. A non-competitive event, the distance for the Arthritis Walk is about 5km. A shorter course of 1 mile is offered for people who are less able. Other activities include volunteering and partnering with local health care centers for the event, joining or participating in the “Cure Arthritis Crew”, and partaking on social media to make an impact for Arthritis Awareness Month. Participants can share their cure arthritis pictures on social media platforms using the hashtag #CureArthritis to show their support and raise awareness that it is time for a cure.