Newswise — ATLANTA – With one in four adults currently suffering from arthritis and rheumatic diseases, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and its public awareness campaign, Simple Tasks™, are teaming up with former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw to raise awareness about this growing and costly healthcare crisis during September’s Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month.

Bradshaw, who has doctor-diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis, is serving as the official spokesperson for Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month.

“You don’t have to be an old athlete like me to have sore joints,” says Bradshaw in a public service announcement that will air on television stations nationwide throughout September.

“These diseases are serious, life-long, and can really put a hitch in your giddy-up if you don’t get help.” In an effort to increase the American public’s understanding of rheumatic diseases and their symptoms, the ACR and Bradshaw are partnering on a “Joint IQ” online awareness quiz and contest that runs through Sept. 25. Individuals who complete the online awareness quiz will be automatically entered for a chance to win a #12 Pittsburgh Steelers jersey signed by Bradshaw.

Rheumatic diseases – which include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, gout, Sjögren’s syndrome, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and hundreds of lesser-known conditions – are expected to affect nearly 80 million Americans by the year 2040, according to latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rheumatic diseases also create an enormous toll on our nation’s healthcare system, costing more than $128 billion each year.

Rheumatic diseases often strike individuals in the prime of their lives and can lead to long-term disability and early death if not treated early and effectively. Although there is no cure for most rheumatic diseases, early intervention by a rheumatologist can help patients manage symptoms and maintain a normal quality of life.

Rheumatic Disease Symptoms

Rheumatic diseases can be systemic in nature and may affect various joints and/or organs. The symptoms of rheumatic diseases can vary depending on what part of the body is affected. The ACR has a library of fact sheets on the wide variety of rheumatic diseases affecting patients and common symptoms that indicate someone should seek care from a rheumatologist. Rheumatic diseases don’t just affect older adults. An estimated 300,000 children live with painful juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which can lead to physical disability, blindness, and other complications if not treated early. And about 20 percent of people with lupus develop the disease before age 20.

“Seeing a rheumatologist within the first weeks and months of disease onset – what rheumatologists call the ‘window of opportunity’– can dramatically improve long-term outcomes for patients, so it is important to know what symptoms to look for and when to ask for a referral to a specialist,” said ACR President Sharad Lakhanpal, MD, MBBS.

Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month is sponsored by Simple Tasks, an international public awareness campaign from the American College of Rheumatology. People who are interested in learning more about rheumatic diseases and Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month activities are encouraged to visit the Simple Tasks website at

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About the American College of Rheumatology

The American College of Rheumatology is an international medical society representing more than 9,400 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals with a mission to empower rheumatology professionals to excel in their specialty. In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatologists are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.