May Is Arthritis Awareness MonthMay 12, 2014
With May designated as Arthritis Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to start a walking program if you don’t already have one or maybe add to your current pace—particularly if you suffer from arthritis.
Arthritis is a disease of the joint, which is where the ends of two or more bones meet. The most common cause of disability in the U.S., it currently affects an estimated 50 million adults in this country and as many as 300,000 children. Sometimes regarded as an “old person’s disease,” it is actually most common in patients under 65.
With the word “arthritis” literally meaning “inflammation of the joint,” the most common type among is osteoarthritis. Here, inflammation occurs when the smooth covering—articular cartilage—on the end of the bones becomes damaged or worn.
Exercise programs, anti-inflammatory drugs and weight management can reduce pain and stiffness from arthritis, as well as improve function.
The Centers for Disease Control (www.CDC.gov/features/arthritisawareness) recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise for all adults. A good way to meet that goal is walking—even for just 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. Walking is low impact on joints; can be done almost anywhere; and doesn’t require special equipment or gym memberships.
In cases of severe osteoarthritis, orthopaedic surgery can provide dramatic pain relief and restore lost joint function. There are a number of surgical procedures, including:
- Removing the diseased or damaged joint lining,
- Realignment of the joints,
- Fusing the ends of the bones in the joint together to prevent joint motion and relieve joint pain,
- Replacing the entire joint (total joint replacement).