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Explore the Arthritis Foundation

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The American Arthritis Foundation or more commonly, the Arthritis Foundation, is a non-profit organization that promotes education about arthritis and other related conditions through the use of research, programs, services and advocacy. It seeks to provide programs at community levels to help arthritis patients from all over the country benefit from its common resources. Many of the services offered by this organization are made possible by voluntary efforts, although professional support and expertise are provided by paid staff. While it was founded as a not-for-profit organization, the Arthritis Foundation's research is backed by fund-raising efforts and donations from sponsors. Since 1948, the Arthritis Foundation has funded over 2,000 physicians, scientists and researchers in the continuing quest to find a cure for arthritis. Its spending on research is now over $244 million.

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My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

- Maya Angelou


A Brief History of the Arthritis Foundation

The foundation began in 1948, when a group of doctors forming the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation decided to organize a nationwide effort to promote awareness and research about arthritis. The foundation focused on creating countrywide chapters and on raising funds to help support its research and education projects. During its first year, the Arthritis and Rheumatoid Foundation was able to spearhead research that resulted in some significant discoveries, including the link between rheumatoid arthritis and a deficiency in the immune system and the drug cortisone. More research and progress followed, along with the discovery that arthritis was actually made up of several types of diseases. During its first few years as an organization, the Arthritis and Rheumatoid Foundation also published the first Bulletin on the Rheumatic Diseases. In 1964, after efforts in educating patients and consolidating the efforts of physicians all around the country, the Arthritis and Rheumatoid Foundation was reorganized and renamed as the Arthritis Foundation. When the government cut a significant amount of funding in 1969, the organization sought the help of the public who responded by giving donations to help fund projects and research programs.

The Contributions of the Arthritis Foundation

Aside from education and continuing research on arthritis, the Foundation was pivotal in raising awareness and government support for arthritis, which resulted to the 1974 National Arthritis Act. This led to the funding of arthritis centers and an increase in arthritis programs, along with the creation of a national commission for arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation is also responsible for the research that led to developments in joint replacement surgery along with improvements in the techniques used for hand and foot surgery. It is also instrumental in the discovery and introduction of anti-inflammatory drugs. In the 1980s, the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization was formed, specifically to focus on the special requirements of children with arthritis. Today, the Arthritis Foundation continues to provide support to promote information about arthritis and funding for the research necessary in order to finally discover an effective treatment for the disease and, hopefully, a cure.

How Many Chapters Does the Arthritis Foundation Have?

Currently the Foundation supports 150 chapters around the country. To get in touch with a local chapter or service point, check out their website at to search for one that's nearest you.

What Can I Expect from the Arthritis Foundation?

Lab ResearchThe Arthritis Foundation has been at the forefront of research to discover the nature of arthritis and its treatments. Its aim is to eventually find the cure for this condition. The organization also provides a means to educate people about arthritis and to promote awareness through advocacy and related programs. The organization's site is also an important part of its thrust for continuing education about arthritis. The site is an excellent source of reliable information about the disease, its symptoms and treatment. Through its site, the organization also hopes to dispel the most common myths surrounding arthritis and provide users only with the facts.

What Benefits can I Receive as a Member?

As a member of the Arthritis Foundation, you will have access to valuable information about the nature of arthritis, its treatment, latest medical discoveries and ongoing research related to arthritis so you are updated about any scientific progress involving this condition. The minimum membership fee is $20, $6 of which will be used to pay for 6 issues of the Arthritis Today magazine. The membership fee will pay cover 12 months and membership is renewable. If you choose to help pay for research, you can also join as a research advocate or associate ($100 or more), colleague ($250), mentor ($500), patron ($1,000) or benefactor ($2,500). Each membership type has a corresponding list of benefits.

Getting in Touch with the Arthritis Foundation

The Arthritis Foundation may be reached at 404-872-7100 or you can log on to their website and send them an e-mail message. You can also write to them via snail mail at Arthritis Foundation, P.O. Box 7669, Atlanta, GA 30357-0669. You can also look for your local chapter through the 'Chapter Locator' link on the website. 

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