December 19, 2014
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CDC report makes correlation between arthritis and falls; network suggests plans
Kelcy Dolan

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a study that makes a correlation between falls and individuals with arthritis.

The CDC reports that those with arthritis have a higher percentage of falling and are more likely to injure themselves during a fall than those without the ailment.

The CDC said that over 100 rheumatic disease and conditions that affect joint inflammation or tissues could be referred to as arthritis. It typically affects people 45 and older.

For the study, the CDC analyzed the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). This random digit survey asked participants about their arthritis as well as the number and severity of the falls they experienced in the past year to evaluate the similarities and differences throughout the country.

The CDC found for Rhode Island that 15.3 percent of people with arthritis experienced one fall compared to the 10.1 percent without arthritis. Arthritic individuals were more apt to have a fall than those without. The risk arthritis poses for sufferers become more apparent in the CDC’s numbers for Rhode Islanders with two or more falls within the surveyed year and those falls that caused injury.

A total of 17.5 percent of those surveyed with arthritis had two or more falls whereas only 8.1 percent of non-arthritic people experienced two or more falls in the year; 14.9 percent of arthritis sufferers had falls that led to injuries and 6.5 percent of non-arthritic participants had similar injury experiences.

The report said that, “Falls are the leading cause of injury-related morbidity and mortality among older adults, with more than one in three older adults falling each year, resulting in direct medical costs of nearly $30 billion.”

With arthritis growing rapidly throughout the U.S. population and arthritis sufferers at a higher risk for falls, the CDC wrote, “ The increase in adults with arthritis (an estimated 67 million by 2030) demonstrate[s] the need for increasing fall prevention efforts.”

The CDC, in conjunction with their findings, has also provided methods in which to relieve arthritis pain and hopefully lessen the possibility of a fall and its possible consequent injuries.

The CDC encourages those suffering from arthritis pain to naturally relieve arthritic pain with exercise. Weight loss relieves pressure on the joints as well as releases pain reducing chemicals.

“Effective fall prevention interventions can be multifaceted, but the most effective single strategy involves exercise or physical therapy to improve gait, balance, and lower body strength, which have been shown to reduce fall risk by 14 to 37 percent.

The state of Rhode Island’s Department of Health acknowledges the increasing issue arthritis is posing to the public and is trying to offer methods in which to help arthritis sufferers.

Director of Health Michael Fine, M.D., said, “One of the best ways to manage arthritis and decrease the chances of a fall is to remain physically active. Physical activity will help improve your balance, help you maintain a healthy weight, and will strengthen your muscles and bones. If you have arthritis, or if you experience stiffness or pain in your joints, talk to your doctor about the type of management plan that will be best for you.”

The department has created a Community Health Network that offers information on programs that deal with specific ailments. The programs offered to arthritis sufferers include the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, which is a recreational exercise program developed to help arthritis sufferers and the pain they experience. A certified instructor would meet with a group for one hour twice a week for six weeks.

The Arthritis Foundation Walk with Ease Program group sessions meet three times a week for six weeks to work on balance and walking pace with participants.

The Living Well Rhode Island, Chronic Disease Self-Management program works with participants to manage symptoms, medications, doctor appointments and family discussions. Each week there will be goals to improve the lifestyles of those involved. The group meets two-and-a-half hours a week for six weeks.

Lastly, YMCA Enhance Fitness program is a 16-week program where individuals participate in exercises that aim to improve strength flexibility, balance and cardiovascular fitness while reducing arthritis pain.

More information on each program can be found on www.health.ri.gov/find/communityhealthnetworkprograms by clicking the arthritis box on the bottom half of the page.


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