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Arthritis in Action

Early diagnosis and proper management of arthritis can help people with arthritis decrease pain, improve function, decrease and delay disability and stay productive and active. Whether or not you have arthritis, you should strive for five. Strive to incorporate five arthritis solutions into your lifestyle 1) learn self-management strategies, 2) be active, 3) watch your weight, 4) protect your joints, and 5) see your doctor. These solutions can help you better manage arthritis if you already have it or help protect you against it if you don’t. Additionally most of them can help you manage other chronic diseases you may face in addition to arthritis, such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes:

  1. Photo: Two women walkingLearn Arthritis-Management Strategies—Learning techniques to reduce pain and limitations can be beneficial to people with arthritis and other chronic diseases. Self-management education programs, such as the Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP), can help you develop the skills and confidence to manage multiple chronic conditions and live well each day in spite of the limitations they cause. Participants in these programs have learned to manage pain and fatigue, and also reduce frustration or worry about their health. Effective, arthritis-focused options such as the Arthritis Self Management Program (ASMP) also are available. Interactive workshops are low-cost (about $25 – $35) and available in communities across the country.
  2. Photo: Man and boy washing carBe Active—You may not think so, but physical activity is highly recommended for people with arthritis. Research has shown that physical activity decreases arthritis pain, improves function and mood, and delays disability. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on at least 5 days each week to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Exercising in intervals as short as 10-minutes can provide health benefits. If you are unsure of how or where to start, consider enrolling in one of the physical activity programs that CDC recommends for people with arthritis, such as the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program or Enhance Fitness.
  3. Photo: Women swimmingWatch Your Weight— Maintaining a healthy weight is an important strategy for staying healthy and managing a variety of chronic illnesses. About 66% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are overweight or obese. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. A loss of just 11 pounds, for people who are overweight, can decrease the occurrence of new knee osteoarthritis and a modest weight loss (5%) can help reduce pain and disability.
  4. Protect Your Joints—Joint injury can lead to osteoarthritis. People who experience sports or occupational injuries or have jobs with repetitive motions like repeated knee bending have more osteoarthritis. Avoid joint injury to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
  5. See Your Doctor—Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and proper management are important, particularly for inflammatory types of arthritis. Early use of disease-modifying drugs can change the course of rheumatoid arthritis. If you have symptoms of arthritis, which may include pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints, see your doctor and begin appropriate management of your condition.

    Remember, to always strive for five!

Strategies to Address Arthritis—What Can Organizations and Communities Do?

The Arthritis Foundation and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) have each released reports that call for partnership and action to support a variety of efforts that will make physical activity more convenient, safe and accessible for people with arthritis and help people with arthritis and other leading chronic conditions live well.

Arthritis Foundation Report – Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity among Adults with Arthritis

Few strategies exist that address the unique, arthritis-specific barriers to physical activity and promote physical activity in a way that is safe, accessible, effective for, and inclusive of, adults with arthritis. The new Arthritis Foundation report outlines specific environmental and policy strategies for organizations and individuals who work in sectors uniquely positioned to influence physical activity among adults with arthritis. The sectors and priority strategies are:

  • Community and Public Health
  • Health Care
  • Transportation, Land Use, and Community Design
  • Business and Industry
  • Park, Recreation, Fitness and Sport
  • Mass Media and Communication

Priority Environmental and Policy Strategies for Improving Physical Activity Among Adults with Arthritis

Community and Public Health

Public health, aging services networks, faith-based organizations, and other community agencies should invest resources in the dissemination and delivery of evidence-based physical activity programs for adults with arthritis in convenient settings.

Health Care

Health care systems should require licensed health care professionals to ask arthritis patients about physical activity levels at every visit, screen for arthritis-specific barriers to physical activity, encourage physical activity, and recommend evidence-based community interventions or rehabilitation therapies when appropriate.

Transportation, Land Use, and Community Design

Policies should be put in place and reinforced to create or expand efforts to promote active living environments that can support adults with arthritis being physically active.

Business and Industry

Comprehensive worksite wellness programs should be inclusive and explicitly incorporate the needs of adults with arthritis in their programs without requiring disclosure of arthritis diagnosis.

Park, Recreation, Fitness, and Sport

Park, recreation, fitness, and sport professionals should receive training on how to adapt and modify physical activity programs and exercises for adults with arthritis and assist them in initiating and sustaining appropriate physical activity.

Mass Media and Communication

Available evidence-based physical activity interventions for adults with arthritis should be promoted through information, guidelines, signage, media promotion, and public outreach.

Learn more about what organizations and individuals in each sector can do to help adults with arthritis become more physically active, and about other arthritis policy resources. Obtain a copy of the complete Arthritis Foundation report.

IOM – Living Well with Chronic Illness: A Call for Public Health Action

As rates of chronic disease such as arthritis continue to increase, Americans are becoming more focused on living well in addition to living longer. Learn more about IOM report.

  • All chronic illnesses hold the potential to worsen the overall health of our nation by limiting an individual’s capacity to live well.
  • Looking at a variety of diseases, health conditions, and physical impairments that significantly affect a person’s health and quality of life, as well as the nation’s economy, would strengthen public health actions to manage chronic disease.
  • Evidence-based interventions aimed at preventing chronic disease (such as ending smoking, eating nutritious food, and limiting weight gain) need to be studied in people with one or more chronic illnesses to assess their effectiveness.
  • While a range of public policies have helped individuals with chronic illness, it is important to design and implement new public policies or explore promising approaches to further promote living well with chronic illnesses.
  • A comprehensive surveillance system to enhance living well with chronic illness is complex and integrates a number of health and quality of life measures.
  • Enhanced collaboration among the public health, health care, and community non healthcare sectors could produce better prevention and treatment outcomes for people living with chronic disease.

Learn more about IOM report.

More Information

CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

  • Page last reviewed: May 14, 2012
  • Page last updated: May 14, 2012
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs