Nick's Story

Taking the Fight to Arthritis Pain 

For 1 in 4 Americans, arthritis pain is a part of everyday life. Pain is with them as they wake up. It interferes with even simple activities like getting dressed or preparing a meal. It disrupts sleep — and in many cases it is debilitating, preventing people from doing what they love and living the lives they want. And while arthritis still is commonly seen as a condition that affects older people, the truth is that two-thirds of those affected are younger than 65 — not including the 300,000 children who have arthritis.

In recognition of Pain Awareness Month this September, the Arthritis Foundation is putting a spotlight on people who live with pain from arthritis and how they are striving to get a grip on their arthritis.

One Patriot’s Price
Nick Steen is one such person. An Army veteran and dad to a teenager who has juvenile arthritis, Steen’s body took a pounding when he was in the elite “Special Ops,” and he has paid a price with severe pain from osteoarthritis (OA).

Steen joined the Army right out of high school in 1994 and served as an airborne infantryman in the 2nd Ranger battalion.

“My primary job in the Army was that of a heavy machine gunner, which meant I was either carrying a 30-pound gun or approximately 600 rounds of ammunition that often weighed over 50 pounds in addition to the normal load. As you can imagine, jumping out of airplanes with this type of weight often made me turn into an anchor as I crashed to the ground,” he says.

Steen sustained injuries, too, including a broken collarbone and a shattered ankle. “I served my country proudly and would do it again,” he says. “My concern is that my choices to help keep this country safe have now caught up to me [in the form of] the osteoarthritis that I have been diagnosed with.”

OA affects almost every joint, from his shoulders to his ankles. “My back, knees, ankles and feet are often in pain as I do my normal activities,” he says.

A Father’s Fight
Despite the pain, he tried to ignore his OA, viewing it as a sign of weakness. “For a while, I even refused to take the pills prescribed by the VA to treat my pain,” he says.

“But that all changed for me when my daughter was just 18 months old and her doctor diagnosed her with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. All the sudden, arthritis was a part of my family’s story in a brand-new way,” Steen recalls. “In sharing my experience with my daughter, my partner in this journey, I have come to learn that this disease is not a sign of weakness. This disease does not care who you are or what you’ve done.”

Now Steen strives to stay physically active and participates in CrossFit training, which he says has helped manage his OA pain. He’s also become more outspoken in his fight against arthritis.

Seeing his now-teenaged daughter’s struggles and acknowledging his own pain spurred Steen to speak out. He shares his story to bring the disease out of the shadows and help others like them – including 1 in 3 servicemen and women who have arthritis – get a grip on arthritis pain.

“There is no cure for arthritis, only pain and inflammation management,” he says. New, more effective and longer-lasting therapies that improve pain management are urgently needed.

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Join the Live Yes! Arthritis Network. Tell us a little about yourself and you will receive emails packed with the latest information and resources to live your best life and connect with others.

 
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Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life. Whether it is supporting cutting-edge research, 24/7 access to one-on-one support, resources and tools for daily living, and more, your gift will be life-changing.

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Help millions of people live with less pain and fund groundbreaking research to discover a cure for this devastating disease. Please, make your urgently-needed donation to the Arthritis Foundation now!

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Become an Arthritis Foundation member today for just $20. You'll receive a year's worth of Arthritis Today magazine, access to helpful tools, resources, and more.

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The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. We can only achieve these goals with your help. Strong, outspoken and engaged volunteers will help us conquer arthritis. By getting involved, you become a leader in our organization and help make a difference in the lives of millions. Join us and become a Champion of Yes.


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Give Just 10 Minutes.

Tell us what matters most to you. Change the future of arthritis.

By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
- Develop programs to meet the needs of you and your community
- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

How are you changing the future?

By sharing your experience, you’re showing decision-makers the realities of living with arthritis, paving the way for change. You’re helping break down barriers to care, inform research and create resources that make a difference in people’s lives, including your own.

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As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.

Trailblazer

Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000

Visionary

Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.

Pioneer

Our Pioneers are always ready to explore and find new weapons in the fight against arthritis. They contribute $1,000,000 to $1,499,999.

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Our Pacesetters ensure that we can chart the course for a cure for those who live with arthritis. They contribute $500,000 to $999,000.

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Our Supporting partners are active champions who provide encouragement and assistance to the arthritis community. They contribute $100,000 to $249,999.