FRANKFORT, Ky. (1/17/13) – Arthritis remains a serious public health concern, creating pain and suffering, work absenteeism and diminished quality of life. Keeping up with physical activity – an integral piece of managing the condition – can be more difficult this time of year.
Keeping that in mind, the Kentucky Department for Public Health is emphasizing programs designed to alleviate arthritis symptoms, as well as lower risk for developing the disease, promoting the importance of arthritis management and reminding citizens to take advantage of arthritis services in their communities.
“Physical activity is key to arthritis management. Yet, for many living with the condition, exercise isn’t a part of their daily lives, or is more difficult this time of year as we spend less time outside and our schedules get busier,” said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield Gibson, Kentucky’s public health commissioner. “We want to remind the public of the many accessible services all across the state aimed at lessening the burden of arthritis. These disease management workshops emphasize the importance of being active and are extremely helpful in managing or even reversing the effects of arthritis.”
Arthritis, a term used to describe more than 100 different conditions that affect joints and other parts of the body, affects numerous people around the world. According to the 2011 Kentucky Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), about one in three Kentucky adults or over 1 million adults reported that a health care provider had diagnosed them as having arthritis. Furthermore, the survey found that 55 percent of Kentuckians with arthritis are limited in their daily activities, and 42 percent reported they are “physically inactive.”
Last fall, the Department for Public Health received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help combat this condition in Kentucky. Public Health and the Kentucky Department for Aging and Independent Living are working together to offer Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) workshops through all 15 Area Agencies on Aging and Independent Living. A workshop is a six-week program to help people develop the skills and confidence to manage their arthritis and other chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes on a day-to-day basis.
For example, participants in these programs learn to manage symptoms of pain and fatigue, and reduce frustration or worry about their health. CDSMP and other evidence-based arthritis programs, such as the Arthritis Foundation Aquatics Program and Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, are offered in several communities through local health departments, local senior citizen centers, Family Health Centers and fitness centers.
“Excess weight can contribute to both the onset and progression of arthritis,” said Jennye Grider, coordinator of the state’s arthritis program. “According to the CDC, weight loss of just 11 pounds can decrease the occurrence of new cases of knee osteoarthritis. Physical activity can also decrease pain and complications for people who already have arthritis.”
Grider also noted that arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 21 million adults.
“Though arthritis can be debilitating and painful, you have to move to improve,” said Grider. “Even light walking can improve mobility while reducing pain, stiffness and fatigue.”
Kentucky is one of 12 states funded through CDC’s arthritis program, which supports evidence-based community interventions to reduce pain and disability and improve the quality of life for people with arthritis.
Information provided by Beth Fisher
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