While it often takes a back seat to other chronic illnesses, arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States and has been for at least the last 15 years.
Arthritis causes a surprisingly disproportionate amount of pain and limitations for African-Americans. According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when compared to whites, African-Americans are:
• About as likely to report having arthritis, but:
• 26% more likely to report activity limitations due to arthritis
• 43% more likely to report work limitations due to arthritis
• 60% more likely to report severe joint pain
While studies such as these highlight disparities, it is important to note that there are resources for people living with arthritis. The CDC recommends that self-management techniques be added to the daily routine of anyone living with arthritis. Below are some examples of simple lifestyle changes that may help African-Americans ease the burden of pain and limitations of arthritis.
• Self-Management Programs: interactive workshops such as the Arthritis Self-Management Program and the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program are low-cost and available in communities across the country. Attending one of these programs can help a person learn ways to manage pain, exercise safely and gain control of their arthritis.
• Physical Activity: Thirty minutes of moderate low impact physical activity at least 5 days per week helps to reduce pain and improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis.
These tips, and other resources, are available at the CDC web site. Putting them into practice will could help increase the quality of life and lessen the everyday pain of the more than the 4.6 million African-Americans living with arthritis.