Burnaby woman fights stereotype that only the elderly get arthritis

One out of every five people is affected by arthritis in Canada.

Most people, however, don’t normally think of arthritis as a disease that impacts young people and that’s exactly the stereotype Burnaby resident Eileen Davidson is trying to break down.

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Davidson was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia - all before her 33rd birthday. On top of that, Davidson also has general anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder.

At first, her doctors misdiagnosed her with carpal tunnel syndrome and believed Davidson was experiencing repetitive pain injuries because of her career as an esthetician.

Being a little bored and having been placed on long-term disability, Davidson decided to volunteer with the Arthritis Society, Arthritis Research Canada and Pain BC in hopes of providing support for people who also have arthritis.

Davidson also writes in various newsletters to help bring light to the hardships the disease brings, specifically for young people.

“I like educating people about the illness because it is a lot more severe than most people actually think it is,” Davidson said.

Garnering her international attention from Inked Magazine to BBC News, Davidson also has her own personal blog where she shares the most difficult parts of her experience being a young single mother living with arthritis.

At one point, she states she couldn’t hold her infant son because of the pain.

She said the most arduous part about arthritis is the unrelenting fatigue that comes along with it, adding that the energy of autoimmune arthritis and a toddler did not match.

Adrienne Dalla-Longa, director of volunteer engagement at the Arthritis Society said she and Davidson have appeared on Breakfast Television Vancouver to discuss the stigma surrounding arthritis, explaining that the disease knows no age, gender or sexual orientation.

It is Davidson’s willingness and ability to be candid and raw about her experience navigating chronic illness that makes readers have an affinity for her work, said Dalla-Longa.

“She’s quite matter of fact about how arthritis has impacted her life,” Dalla-Longa said.

Davidson said there’s still not enough information and education given to people who are living with chronic pain and she hopes she can be a voice for those people.

“I like to share my story in hopes that people feel less alone and that they know there is hope when living with chronic pain,” Davidson said.

In its 10-year anniversary, Davidson is this year’s marketing and recruitment coordinator for the annual Walk Arthritis event hosted by the Arthritis Society and she hopes she is able to break common misconceptions about arthritis while raising funds for research and treatment for Canadians living with arthritis.

To take part and fundraise for the 2019 Walk For Arthritis in Vancouver, register at https://walkforarthritis.ca/ .

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