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DHEC, Community Partners Unite to Fight Increase of Arthritis

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the nation, and the number of people with arthritis is growing. Due to the national increase in the number of people with arthritis, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and health care partners are uniting to encourage use of exercise and self-management interventions to ease the physical and financial burden caused by the disease, the agency announced today.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the estimated number of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis has increased from 49.9 million (2007-2009) to 52.5 million or more than 1 in 5 (2010-2012). In South Carolina, more than 1 in 4, or 28 percent, of adults are affected.
“Arthritis is a serious and costly public health problem that is often under-recognized,” said Cora Plass, director of Healthy Aging at DHEC. “Arthritis causes complications in the management of co-occurring conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease because it limits physical activity. In S.C., 51 percent of people with arthritis have activity limitations caused by the disease.”
“The CDC estimates arthritis costs the state an estimated $1.3 billion annually for direct medical care and $2.1 billion when loss of productivity and other indirect expenses are considered,” said Plass.
DHEC’s arthritis program has been working in coordination with other chronic disease programs to build partnerships in an effort to increase access to and use of self-management education and exercise interventions. Partnerships have been built with state agencies, community and faith-based organizations, and health care systems.
According to Plass, self-management education is an effective way to manage arthritis and other ongoing or chronic health conditions. In a small group setting, participants set goals for improving their health. They gain support from others to make positive changes and gain confidence in their ability to take charge of their health to produce “healthy outcomes.”
“We are training staff to offer the Better Choices, Better Health self-management education program as a component of our Healthy Outcomes Project,” said Carla Wham, director of community health education at Georgetown Memorial Hospital, one of DHEC’s community partners. “We are excited about the potential benefits that the program will provide in improving health outcomes for adults with one or more chronic health conditions.”
For more information on the burden of arthritis in South Carolina visit http://www.scdhec.gov/arthritis or call 1-866-899-3663 for information about evidence-based arthritis interventions.