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FOR RELEASE: July 14, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Health Providers Emphasize Arthritis Management Counseling

Only one in 10 persons with arthritis takes advantage of arthritis education to help reduce pain, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). Promotion of arthritis self-management through physical activity, weight control and evidence-based education has been shown to reduce pain, improve function and quality of life, and delay disability among people with arthritis. There are concerns that these types of programs and services are not being widely used, however.

In 2003, only 50 percent of persons with arthritis received physical activity counseling and only 30 percent overweight or obese persons with arthritis received weight counseling. Just 11 percent of persons with arthritis reported having arthritis education.

“Health care providers are missing opportunities to provide counseling and nonpharmacologic arthritis management techniques to their patients,” said OSDH Arthritis Prevention and Education Program Coordinator and occupational therapist, Marisa New. “And likewise, patients often are missing opportunities to improve their health because they are not receiving valuable educational information about self-management ways to reduce pain and improve their quality of life despite having arthritis,” New said.

Nationally, arthritis is a chronic disease affecting an estimated 43 million U.S. adults. As the leading cause of disability in the U.S., more than 731,000 people in Oklahoma have been diagnosed by their doctors to have arthritis and over 100 related conditions. Arthritis limits work and recreational activities, decreases the quality of life, and creates a substantial burden on the U.S. health care system.

In the May 25, 2005, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, an article titled "Monitoring Progress in Arthritis Management - United States and 25 States, 2003," reviewed a recent study that showed no significant progress has been made to meet the long-term federal Healthy People 2010 goals for arthritis education.

“As our country’s population ages, the personal and societal burdens of arthritis will continue to increase. We need to identify the barriers that keep people from accessing these self-management techniques to encourage them to participate in moderate physical activities to improve their health,” New said.

This year the Oklahoma Arthritis Network (OAN) and the Arthritis Foundation are urging Oklahomans with arthritis to get active through regular, moderate physical activity that can improve the health and function of joints, while reducing the risk of other chronic health conditions. Physical activity helps protect joints by strengthening muscles and improving balance and joint nutrition, which leads to better flexibility, bone density, and physical function. Long-term benefits include reduced pain, improved mental health, and delayed disability. Walking is an ideal activity for most people with arthritis because it is low impact.

The Arthritis Foundation's Self Help Program, Exercise Program and the Aquatic Program provide education that can help people with arthritis reduce their pain. These are available in communities statewide. Visit this Web site: www.health.ok.gov/program/apep for their locations in Oklahoma, or call your local Arthritis Foundation chapter for more information on classes available in your community. Learn more about these programs at the next Oklahoma Arthritis Network meeting on Aug. 4, 2005, at 2 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Department of Health in Oklahoma City. For additional information, contact Marisa New at (405) 271-9444, ext. 56410.

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