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FOR RELEASE: May 1, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Events Planned for Arthritis Awareness Month in May

Arthritis is the country's leading cause of disability, affecting one in six people, equal to 15 percent of the population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that number will increase to one in five by the year 2020, due mainly to the aging of the Baby Boomers. In Oklahoma alone, there are about 600,000 people affected by many forms of the disease. During May, Arthritis Awareness Month, health officials are encouraging people to educate themselves about arthritis, obtain an early diagnosis from a health care provider, and learn to control the disease.

Arthritis is a disease that limits people's activities by affecting their ability to participate in life. More than seven million Americans have an impeded ability to walk, play with their children, drive a car, dress themselves and continue to work in their profession because of arthritis. Certain forms of arthritis can decrease life expectancy from eight to 15 years, compared to persons of similar age and sex.

“Arthritis can be a crippling disease, however, people can learn different ways to protect their joints, save energy, and increase their comfort and endurance levels,” said Oklahoma Arthritis Network (OAN) Chair Norma Goff, R.N. “Organizations are partnering around the state to increase public awareness about arthritis and related conditions.”

The OAN wants to maximize the quality of life for Oklahomans affected by arthritis and promote resources that increase access to health care management and health education. Monthly meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The public is welcome to attend. Also, OAN is encouraging people to complete a new questionnaire developed by the Arthritis Foundation to help identify risk factors, early signs, and symptoms of arthritis.

This screening tool is part of a statewide effort to assess the extent of arthritis in Oklahoma and better plan methods of prevention, early intervention, and treatment.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is working with the OAN to encourage the public to attend some of the following events in May:

  • May 3: Oklahoma Arthritis Network Meeting, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Oklahoma State Department of Health, Room 806, Oklahoma City. The topic: “Common Symptoms of Arthritis and Related Conditions,” will be discussed by Craig Carson, MD, Rheumatologist. Call (405) 271-5600, ext. 56410 for details.
  • May 3: Public meeting at the Andrew Johnson Elementary School, 1810 Sheffield, Oklahoma City, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. “Arthritis: Not Just a Grownups Disease,” will be discussed by James Jarvis, Rheumatologist. Call (405) 848-7345 or (405) 271-5600, ext. 56410 to register and for details.
  • May 9: Bone and Joint Hospital will hold a “Hip and Knee Seminar” with speaker Pat Vernon, R.N., in its Educational Center, Oklahoma City. Call 552-9181 for details.
  • May 17: Bone and Joint Hospital, McBride Clinic, Arthritis Foundation and the Oklahoma State Department of Health will sponsor an educational health fair, “Life with Arthritis: Taking Control,” from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Topics include: Signs and Current Treatment for Osteoarthritis, Different Kinds of Hip and Knee Pain, Compensatory Strategies to Increase Daily Living Comfort, and the Importance of Exercise,” at the Saints Santa Fe Club, 6300 N. Santa Fe, Oklahoma City. Call (405) 552-9181 or (405) 271-5600 ext. 56410 for details.
  • May 17: “Arthritis Aches & Pains,” at the Norman Rivermont Retirement Community, 750 Canadian Trails, Norman at 7:00 p.m. Speaker will be Robert McArthur, M.D. Call Jim Miller at (405) 360-0606 or (405) 552-9590 for details.
  • May 18: A workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the topic: “Tapping Your Potential: An Update on Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Fibromyalgia,” at Saint Francis Hospital, 6161 S. Yale, Tulsa. Call (918) 494-6490 for details.
  • May 18: Arthritis Foundation and Pharmacia will hold an educational symposium from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on conditions ranging from osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, alternative therapies, and new medications to treat arthritis at Deaconess Medical Offices North. The seminar and lunch will be provided at no cost, but reservations are required. Call (405) 236-3399 for details.

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