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Key Public Health Messages

Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis, including self-management activities, can help people with arthritis decrease pain, improve function, stay productive, and lower health care costs. Key self-management activities include the following:

Learn Arthritis Management Strategies—Learning techniques to reduce pain and limitations can be beneficial to people with arthritis. Self-management education, such as the Arthritis Self Management Program (ASMP), or the Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP) help you develop the skills and confidence to manage your arthritis on a day to day basis. For example, participants in these programs learned to manage symptoms of pain and fatigue, had more energy, and less  frustration or worry about their health. The Arthritis Toolkit is a self-study version of the Arthritis Self Management Program, and Better Choices, Better Health for Arthritis is a web-based version that allows you to join a workshop without leaving home.

Be Active—Research has shown that physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week; this will help you achieve the 150 minutes per week recommended for all Americans. You can do your activity in 10-minute bouts. You can do physical activity on your own, or join a program where the instructors are trained and the exercises are known to be safe for people with arthritis.  Read about the physical activity programs that the CDC recommends for people with arthritis, such as Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, EnhanceFitness, and Walk with Ease.  A 2-page fact sheet summarizing physical activity for people with arthritis is available.

Watch Your Weight—The prevalence of arthritis increases with increasing weight. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. A loss of just 11 pounds can decrease your risk of developing knee osteoarthritis, and a modest weight loss (5%) can help reduce pain and disability.

See Your Doctor—Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management is important, especially for inflammatory types of arthritis. For example, early use of disease-modifying drugs can change the course of rheumatoid arthritis. If you have symptoms of arthritis, see your doctor and begin appropriate management of your condition.

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.


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