Arthritis is our country’s most common cause of disability. For this reason, the Arthritis Foundation sponsors an Arthritis Walk each May. This annual nationwide event raises awareness and funds to fight arthritis, which affects 50 million men, women, and children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, arthritis and rheumatic conditions cost the U.S. economy $128 billion annually and result in 44 million outpatient visits.
So why was a walk created for people with arthritis? Most doctors believe movement is one of the best treatment options for arthritis and can help most people prevent the onset of the disease in the first place. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that strong evidence indicates both endurance and resistance types of exercise provide considerable disease-specific benefits.
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, but the most common form is osteoarthritis. This chronic disease is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage, which causes stiffness and pain. Common causes of osteoarthritis include musculoskeletal defects, genetic defects, obesity, or injury and overuse.
Nearly 300,000 children in the U.S. are living with juvenile arthritis, making it one of the most common chronic childhood conditions. Additionally, arthritis is more common among women (24.9%) than men (18.1%), and girls are twice as likely to develop juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as boys.
There are several ways to project your joints and help prevent osteoarthritis, including:
- Maintain your ideal body weight – the more you weigh, the more stress you are putting on your joints, especially your hips, knees, back, and feet.
- Move your body – exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them.
- Stand up straight – good posture protects the joints in your neck, back, hips, and knees.
- Use the big joints – when lifting or carrying, use the largest and strongest joints and muscles to help avoid injury and strain on your smaller joints.
- Listen to your body – don’t ignore pain after an activity or exercise because it can be an indication you have over-stressed your joints.
While arthritis can mean chronic pain and discomfort for some, many sufferers have learned techniques to live with their condition and continue to lead healthy and productive lives. Methodist Hospital For Surgery’s joint program may benefit you or someone you know. To learn more,visit www.methodisthospitalforsurgery.com