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FOR RELEASE: November 9, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Public Comments Requested for State Plan on Arthritis Prevention

A disease many take for granted – arthritis – and its related conditions affect almost 600,000 Oklahomans and cost the state nearly $860 million in medical costs and productivity annually. To address this problem, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a grant to the Oklahoma State Department of Health to raise public awareness about arthritis, track its prevalence in Oklahoman, analyze arthritis-related data, and develop partnerships statewide to work toward reducing the burden of arthritis.

As part of this process, the state health department's Arthritis Prevention and Education Program and its newly-formed Oklahoma Arthritis Network are requesting comments from the public to help develop a statewide plan to increase public awareness about arthritis and related conditions. The plan will address ways to maximize the quality of life for Oklahomans affected by these conditions through the development of resources, promotion of access to appropriate health care management, and the provision of education.

There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related diseases. Some of the warning signs of arthritis are pain, stiffness, swelling, and difficulty moving a joint. Only a doctor can determine if someone has arthritis and what type it is. The more common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, lupus, gout and associated conditions such as low back pain, bursitis and tendinitis.

To decrease your chances of acquiring arthritis, health officials suggest maintaining appropriate weight and to follow proper strategies to prevent occupational or sports-related injuries. Early diagnosis and medical treatment, physical activity and a variety of self-management techniques help reduce disability once arthritis is diagnosed.

Treatment for arthritis can range from medications prescribed by your doctor to exercises for range-of motion, strengthening, and endurance; using heat or cold treatments; pacing activities to avoid stress and fatigue; and joint protection and self-care skills. Surgery may be required if other treatments fail.

To maintain your ability to perform daily activities that could be hampered by arthritis, follow these suggestions:

  • Enlarge handles on items you use frequently by wrapping foam or cloth or tape around them to help secure your grip.
  • Move heavy loads by using carts or carriers with wheels.
  • Use a jar opener instead of twisting off lids with your hands.
  • Replace round knobs on doors and faucets with easily operated levers.
  • Dial the telephone with a pencil rather than your fingers.
  • Consider leg extenders to raise the height of your chair so you can get up more easily.

The Oklahoma Arthritis Network meets the first Thursday of each month. The next meeting will be at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 7, 2000, in Room 314 of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. To participate in the meetings or to offer public comments regarding the state plan, contact Marisa New, Arthritis Prevention and Education Program Coordinator, 405/ 271-5161. For information about arthritis, see the following websites: www.health.state.ok.us/program/apep or http://okarthritisnetwork.listbot.com.


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