Arthritis and Chronic Joint Symptoms

From the Centers for Disease Control Are you female, Caucasian, have a lesser education, and overweight? Then you run the greatest risk of either arthritis or chronic joint symptoms. Check out the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) These statistics left me stunned. Just for openers: Arthritis and chronic joint symptoms affect nearly 70 million Americans, or about one of every three adults, making it one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States. As the population ages, this number will increase dramatically. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Double that of heart trouble. Triple that of respiratory trouble. Five times that of diabetes. Over six times more than that of stroke! Nationally, medical care for arthritis cost nearly $22 billion in 1995 (latest figures). Total costs, including medical care and loss of productivity, exceeded $82 billion in 1995. Who has arthritis? As the CDC reports: «The prevalence of arthritis is high for all demographic groups, but especially higher among women, older persons, and those with less education.» What’s being done? The CDC reports that in 1998, the «first ever» plan to address arthritis using a public health approach was released. This plan was developed by the CDC, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, with input from over 90 organizations. The plan recommended actions in «Three major areas for individuals and groups interested in reducing the impact of arthritis.» Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Prevention Research Communication and Education Programs, Policies, and Systems For some reason, this evokes a scene in my mind from the TV show «Star Trek Voyager» where the holographic Doctor is helping one of his patients recover from a leg joint injury. The crewman is in great pain, while the Doctor dispassionately tells the patient to «live with the pain and do the exercises». The crewman, exasperated at this attitude, complains to the Doctor that he was programmed not to hurt his patients. The holographic Doctor quickly replies «I was programmed to do no harm. However, I can inflict as much pain as I wish.» In the daily media, we are bombarded with stories about AIDS, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Heart Disease, and even the latest outbreak of the West Nile Virus. Yet, you hardly ever hear anything about the greatest threat to our quality of life … Arthritis! Let me repeat the findings of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). «Arthritis and chronic joint symptoms affect nearly 70 million Americans, or about one of every three adults, making it one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States. As the population ages, this number will increase dramatically.» One in Three God forbid you are a Caucasian woman, with little education, and are 30 lbs or more overweight (obese). What can be done? The CDC recommends: «We can do the effective things that are not being done enough. Research shows that physical activity decreases pain, improves function and delays disability. In addition, research studies suggest that maintaining an ideal body weight and avoiding joint injuries reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. Obtaining an early diagnosis so that appropriate management, including self-management, can be initiated may improve the quality of life for persons with arthritis. Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis, including … self-help courses, weight control, and physical activity can help people with arthritis function better, stay productive, and lower health care costs.» Has your Doctor ever told you to just keep doing your exercises, keep dieting and keep your weight down, and keep taking your medications and just try to live with the pain? What else is your Doctor going to say? Are we crazy? Could it be that if your Doctor said anything else it would mean committing financial suicide? I know most doctors are hard-working and doing their best and in many cases are achieving astonishing things. However, the pressure to use drugs and more drugs is overwhelming. It is not their fault! It is ours!! We go to them for a magic bullet and expect them to heal us… and with not having to make any lifestyle changes. Is this fair to the doctors? Of course not! «I Cured My Arthritis You Can Too» Margie Garrison www.cureyourarthritis.com

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