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National Arthritis Awareness Month

May is recognized as National Arthritis Awareness Month. Arthritis Awareness Month is a time to encourage Americans to get active while raising funds and awareness for the disease.

Arthritis is a complex, widespread, and currently incurable disease that affects more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children, making it the number one cause of disability in the country. The disease continues to be the topic of vast amounts of research and many forms of it are still not well understood. “As physicians and healthcare providers we describe the process in terms of function, pain, and molecular and cellular breakdown. As patients we describe the disease as how it affects our ability to enjoy our lives to the fullest” Dr. Scott Appell, head of Grandview Medical Center’s Advanced Joint Care Program, explains.

Arthritis is not exclusive to the elderly population and can be experienced at any age. Two-thirds of people suffering from arthritis are under age 65, however the risk of arthritis does increase with age.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis include swelling, pain, loss of motion, and limitation in function. Regular physical activity is important for pain relief, yet those suffering from arthritis are less likely to be physically active than those without arthritis. Although relief comes with movement, many cannot withstand the pain associated with normal daily activities.

Dr. Appell suggests exercise and muscle strengthening for maintaining joint function. “The use of low impact exercise seems to work best and water based therapies are usually well tolerated. Initially working with a trained therapist greatly improves our patients results as they better understand the importance of proper joint function.”

Arthritis is all around us and has a much larger impact than we realize. Visit the Arthritis Foundation’s website to learn more about arthritis and the toll it is taking on our family, friends, and country.

Dr. Scott Appell is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in total joint replacement, shoulder surgical intervention, and arthroscopy of the shoulder, hip and knee. Additionally, he focuses on performing total and partial revisions involving hardware as well as the comprehensive treatment of pediatric and adult fractures.