Sunday, August 4, 2013


Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the nation. Could you have Arthritis and not know it?
According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is a complex “family” of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders.   

In my state of Alabama (you can find your state on the arthritis website), arthritis has impacted the lives of 1.2 million adults and an estimated 5,000 children.   In the United States 50 million American adults (that’s one in five), have doctor-diagnosed arthritis as well as 300,000 children under the age of 18.  And, two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65 years old. So, you can see that this isn’t just an “old age” disease.

And, statistics add up to billions of reasons why we must improve our understanding of Arthritis and spread the word.  Be responsible for our own care, or others,  by   sharing information with those we know and love.  The already “glum” reality of healthcare costs rising as our economy is stammering to stabilize  The Arthritis Foundation is treating this -- – as a serious health related issue, with lots of silver linings if one can learn ways to improve and manage this condition. The sooner , the better.   
Arthtis Exercise Program Participants
  • ·         By the year 2030, an estimated 67 million American adults will have arthritis.
  • ·         Arthritis and related conditions cost the U.S. economy $128 billion per year in medical care and indirect expenses, including lost wages and productivity.

If you ask yourself if there is anything one can do about it – the answer is yes!  Under the Evidence Based Health Programs and the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965, seniors over 60 may find classes offered in their community given for a small fee, or free. 
At any age, research shows that exercise has proven to reduce pain, maintain a healthier lifestyle and manage chronic conditions. And, with Arthritis, this is also true. You can certainly start with walking – any time you walk, there’s more than one benefit.  If you are looking for a more structured exercise program,   there are numerous health, prevention and wellness programs for all ages.  Check with your local colleges or Area Aging for those over 50.  DVDs specific to people with arthritis are also helpful if you can’t get out.   (See references for suggestions.)

I began my journey as an arthritis instructor with a simple definition but the entire picture is much more complicating.  I got the definitions of Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and had  no idea that Fibromyalgia, for example, is a related condition, which does not affect the joints.

 Arthritis means “joint inflammation.”  First, look at the structure of a joint.  A Joint allows movement however, sometimes, for example, through an injury, one of the sections of a joint, may suffer damage.  Inflammation is a natural response to the injury and other condiitons, and it is involved in many types of arthritis, not only through an obvious injury.

The participants in my class at a local senior complex all “knew” they had some type of arthritis but many had not been diagnosed.  Those who were diagnosed and who may have had joint surgery knew exactly what exercises may be harmful or those which may beneficial. 

As an instructor, I knew I had to remind them to “go at their pace,” and “listen to their body,” before, during and after class.  I studiously prepare each class based on the instructions provided me during a long intensive workshop and a number of lessons before becoming fully certified.

Week after week   class participants return  at the senior complex where I taught (ages from 60 to over 90 years old), eager to “work out.”   Their life stories are as fascinating as they are vibrant and beautiful.  Many have already noticed a difference in how much better they feel and many walk in between days they are not in class.  Their age was not a deterrent to successfully complete the lessons. 

I can confirm that the results after around the 6th class, participants began to feel better by doing the special arthritis class exercises. A few even told me that were taking less over the counter medication and feeling less pain.  Good News!

These participants in the photo  are a sampling of – the real faces of arthritis – which the Arthritis Foundation refers to in their website.   The Foundation is  doing some work and raising awareness with all the good information and solid research.  You'll find nutrition and exercise hand in hand. 

The Arthritis Foundation’s aim is to reduce the impact of arthritis by 20 percent by 2030.  Are you be informed enough to know more arthritis, help a friend,  perhaps help a child get diagnosed, walk for the cause, attend an exercise class, volunteer your time or donate.   --

Ask your family doctor if you might be a person with arthritis? You could be a person with arthritis and not know,it --  but why not find out early so the condition can be treated.

To learn more about these vital organizations, their missions and the programs and/or services they provide and the many ways you can volunteer or donate. 

 Or, if you wish to improve your overall health, please visit the websites listed below.  (The Arthritis Foundation: Information, tips, Exercise DVDs)   (The Arthritis Foundation Magazine)

*Information obtained through The Arthritis Foundation Workshop and the website.

 Carolyn M. Rhodes is a certified Arthritis Exercise Instructor and presently a volunteer at the Presbyterian Apartments in Northport, Alabama.