Ask President Obama to talk about the pain, cost and disability caused by arthritis. Then, share this video with your friends. If we want to see a cure, we must start talking about arthritis too!
Learn more about the video and our request to President Obama at http://www.arthritis.org/ask.php
September 16, 2011
August 17, 2011
As we grow older, it becomes harder and harder to maintain an ideal body weight. That can leave us overweight and out of shape. The first step towards reversing that trend and regaining a well balanced healthy lifestyle is exercise.
Exercise is important because it can slow down or even reverse some of the conditions that can happen with aging. These facts are taken from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:
- Exercise and activity helps to maintain your ability to walk, which is important in maintaining your independence.
- Exercise can reduce your risk of falling by improving your balance and body posture.
- Exercise promotes bone strength and helps our bones retain more calcium.
- Exercise helps to grow muscle. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, so the more muscle we have, the easier it will be for us to burn calories and maintain a good body weight. In addition, stronger muscles help to protect our joints from injury.
- Exercise is imperative for joint health! By moving our joints, we promote the body’s natural lubrication process of our joint surfaces. This helps to reduce joint pain.
An exercise program must be well balanced to avoid injury and maximize our outcomes. The best programs are comprised of: aerobic conditioning, flexibility/agility exercises, strength training, and relaxation techniques. Please consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
- Aerobic conditioning means you are constantly moving to increase your heart rate and keep it increased for a certain period of time. Usually it is between 20 – 30 minutes a day, 3 – 4 times per week. If you have arthritis, consider low impact activities such as swimming, water aerobics, stationary bicycle, rowing machine, or elliptical trainer.
- Flexibility/agility exercises increase our range of motion and help to improve our balance. Yoga and Tai Chi are excellent examples of this.
- Strength training uses weights to improve muscle mass. You can also use resistance bands. Please consult with your physician prior to a weight program, especially if you have osteoporosis.
- Relaxation techniques are important to lower blood pressure, decrease stress, and exercise our minds, which is just as important in the big picture of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Make a plan for yourself and stick to it! Remember to take it slow and do not get discouraged. It may have been many years since you last exercised, so it might take a long time to get back in shape. The first step, though, is to start and keep showing up to your workouts. You can do it!
For more info on Orthopedic related topics, please see www.orthoinfo.org. This site is sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon
§ Portions taken from AAOS website orthoinfo.org
The information on this website has been provided for educational and information purposes only and shall not otherwise be construed or relied on as medical advice. Each reader is solely responsible for seeking the medical advice and/or care from his or her own physician or other provider to address the user/viewer/reader's specific medical condition and/or other health care needs.
April 25, 2011
Our Indianapolis Arthritis Walk Vice Chair, Kate Nicholson, got engaged to Brian Johnson about a month ago. In this blog post, she interviews Brian about finding out she has fibromyalgia, how he sees their future, and why he supports the Arthritis Foundation.
|Kate & Brian Volunteering at the JBR|
Kate: Do you remember on our first date when I told you I had fibromyalgia? What did you think when I told you? What expectations/thoughts did you have as a result of that in our early dating time?
Brian: I remember the night clearly and remember the exact moment as we walked down the Canal. I recall asking a lot of questions. At the time I had heard of fibromyalgia, but did not know the specifics of the condition so I just started asking questions and listened a lot. It was evident to me that you had the condition under control and you were very proactive in not letting it control your life. The fact that you had volunteered for several fibro studies told me that you were interested in not letting your condition define you. If anything it showed me that your ambition matched my own and you were going to live and enjoy your life regardless of fibro.
Now, was I scared a little? Of course, and I think I even brought that up to you that night. But it occurred to me that if I was scared about it, then how must you feel in broaching the subject on a first date? My only expectation was that I wanted you to be honest with me about fibro and you totally were from the beginning.
Kate: Now that we are planning the rest of our lives together, and I've been diagnosed with two more arthritic conditions, what do you worry about?
Brian: Now that I've been with you for nearly a year I have much less worry. We've had some great conversations and it's my belief that your dogged determination will win out over any diagnosed condition. I've envisioned you saying, "Arthritis and fibro be damned, I've got stuff to do. So give me another option, Doctor, or I'll find one myself." It's that determined attitude that keeps any past worries I ever had at bay.
Not to say that you won't want or need to hold my hand for support now and again, but I feel like we draw strength from each other and will ultimately find a way to do everything we want to do in life including having a family, finishing school, traveling, and whatever else suits our fancy.
Kate: Let's talk about the practical side of chronic conditions. Can you describe for the readers, from your perspective, the ways that you see me taking care of myself and the things you do to help me?
Brian: I see you taking a lot of different approaches to the various conditions you deal with daily. There are medications, but you know the medications forwards and backwards enough to be able to discuss with your doctor about dosage and how different doses may help in the event of a flare-up. You trust your doctors, but don't rely on them to be the only authority in the room. And, you're not afraid to fire them if they give up. On my side I have a list of your meds just in case. I'm no expert, but I have the information should I need it!
I also see you making an effort to stay active with regular walks as well as getting a yoga session as often as your schedule allows. You are also willing to try new things like the TENS Unit, massage, physical therapy, or the new pain patches. You have the same mentality when it comes to your diet. You eat good food. Not to say that you don't indulge, but more often than not you make choices that will benefit your conditions and then find a way to make them darn tasty! I'm also open to trying new foods and recipes, so we can be healthy together.
Kate and Brian after Brian’s first marathon
at Disney World in January 2011
Finally, you get the rest that your body needs to do what you need to do. Again, not to say you sacrifice or are always in bed by 9 pm, but you know what it takes and endeavor to give your body what it needs. I see that you are preparing yourself to have so many options that something is going to work or a combination of things are going to work when things flare-up.
On my side of things, I support you as much as I can and don't become a barrier myself. If you need extra sleep, then I keep quiet so you can rest. If you need an easy weekend, then I don't complain that I wanted to go out. There will be plenty of weekends to go out in the future!
I also help out on the exercise component by going on walks and helping us stay active. Since I am a long distance runner, I can at least begin to understand the muscular pain and tightness that comes with fibromyalgia. We have a roller that we both use on sore muscles and we even relax and let the other person "roll" the other's leg muscles. I really enjoy these sessions because we get to chat for a good hour without interruption. How many couples just sit next to each other and talk for an hour plus straight without any TV, Computer, Blackberry, iPhone, iPod, Facebook, Twitter or Xbox?
The most important thing as a partner/spouse/significant other is to try and understand what your loved one is going thru every minute of every day and not be a barrier to them yourself.
Kate: Your last sentence really stood out to me. You really have been amazingly supportive. What other words of advice do you have for people who have a significant other who is surviving arthritic conditions?
Brian: Besides not being a barrier or burden to the person who has arthritis...I know I said that already, but I thought it was worth saying again. My advice is, "Read up!" or "Get knowledgable!" Go online, talk to YOUR doctor, find some information and be informed. The arthritis we are talking about is NOT the same that Grandpa had at the age of 80. This is NOT just "the aches and pains of getting older." It's a chronic medical condition.
DO NOT become the "know it all," trying to tell your loved one the best way to treat their arthritis. The information you find is so you can be prepared for what comes next, and be understanding of what your loved one is going through. As a guy, we sometimes want to try and fix the problem instead of just being there for support. This isn't the time. Go fix a lamp instead and take out the garbage while you're at it.
Kate: Ha! I know you meant to be funny, but I can't tell you how much I appreciate that you take out the trash! Let's chat about the Arthritis Foundation for a minute. We've attended Bone Bash. You volunteered with me at Jingle Bell Run (and ran it!), and now you're working with me for the Arthritis Walk in June. Why do you think it's important for families to attend these events?
Brian: From a personal perspective, it's important because I'm not the only person on this planet and I could be diagnosed with arthritis tomorrow. I'd hate to decide that something was important AFTER I needed help for my own cause. In three words, "pay it forward."
|Kate & Brian at the 2010 Indianapolis Bone Bash|
On another note, it's events like Bone Bash, The Arthritis Walk, and the Jingle Bell Run that raise money for arthritis research. Because of that research, aspirin is no longer the primary treatment for arthritis. If we can raise a little money and be able to manage arthritis, I say we raise a little more and see if we can make arthritis even less than a minor inconvenience.
Finally, you're my family. If this is important to you, then my place is beside you or where ever you need me to be, whether it's running a 5K, dressing up in a Bone Bash costume, handing out fliers or tweeting to my friends. I'm there for you because that's what family members do for each other. You'd do the same for me. (Insert Friends theme song here.)
Kate: I'm pretty certain I'm the luckiest girl in the world to have you by my side. Any other comments or thoughts for our readers?
Brian: Only one more thing to add. On the worst day when your loved one who has arthritis is their most irritable, you've lost all patience and you want to hang it all just remember that you don't have arthritis for the rest of your life. And if you do have arthritis, then thank your lucky stars that you have someone who understands what you're going through every minute of every day.
March 21, 2011
I participated in the Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Summit 2011 in Washington DC. It was a great experience and I believe I made a difference. Kevin Mandrell and his wife, Annette were the other representatives from Indiana. Together we visited each of the eleven offices of the Senate and House represented by Indiana. We met with Representative Burton and then with everyone’s Legislative Directors or Assistants. Most seemed genuinely interested. As the government is undergoing drastic budget cuts right now, no one was making any commitments, but they were all receptive to continuing contact with us which was promising. Our goal was to give them information and discuss our four agenda items:
- To join the Congressional Arthritis Caucus and continue to fight to maintain our national investment in arthritis research. As a result of our visits, 17 members of Congress have signed up as of March 4th.
- Make Arthritis a National Priority. To help stop arthritis and add it to your national and local discussions on chronic disease. To support programs to help Americans manage arthritis and help prevent further disability. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. resulting in $128 billion dollars of medical expenses and lost earnings each year. We distributed form letters for President Obama and Secretary Sebelius for the legislators to sign and mail.
- To support the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases as well as the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance. These agencies are making great strides in arthritis treatment and prevention and need to be supported now for cost containment and disease reduction in the future. Currently one in five Americans has arthritis and 300,000 children. In another 20 years that is projected to become one in four or 25% of Americans. According to the CDC 1 in 20 working Americans will have to change their job due to arthritis. I am one of these working Americans currently going back to school to start a new career because the one I love is too strenuous with my arthritis.
- To urge federal investment in arthritis research through Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs at the Department of Defense. Veterans are returning from service with a 50% increased risk for arthritis. Most of them are afflicted with osteoarthritis from the wear and tear from their equipment and injuries.
The Arthritis Foundation provided an excellent training program to prepare all of the Advocates. It was great to network with others and get fresh ideas. The AF staff of Amy Melnick, Jennifer Taylor McBride, Laurie Markle and Kimberly Beer made the education fun and inspiring. The physician speakers prepared the group with the newest information on arthritis developments and treatments to present to the congressmen. I look forward to next year’s program and to my continuing efforts this year with my legislators.
March 18, 2011
Name: James Bicos, M.D.
Hometown: Addison, IL (suburbs of Chicago); currently lives in Carmel, IN
Profession/Practice: Orthopedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Trained Surgeon with St. Vincent Orthopedics/St. Vincent Sports Medicine
How has arthritis affected your life or how do you help people with arthritis: I help people with arthritis every day. That makes up 90% of my practice. Since I am on the sports medicine side and see young athletes, I feel that I have an extra incentive (and duty) to keep them healthy and prevent arthritis from taking over their joints.
How long and in what capacity have you been connected to the Arthritis Foundation: I have been associated with the Arthritis Foundation for the past year, donating to the Research Advocate campaign. I have also represented St. Vincent at the 2010 Evening of Appreciation when St. Vincent was recognized for becoming the first every Indiana Friend of the Foundation.
Why do you (volunteer, donate, work, etc.) with Arthritis Foundation: Being an Orthopedic Surgeon, arthritis is part of my job every day. I have a motto that “I am stomping out arthritis, one joint at a time!”
A little about you: Dr. Bicos is a member of St. Vincent Orthopedics and the St. Vincent Performance Center. He concentrates his practice on the specialized needs of athletes of all ages. He has received extensive training in cartilage restoration, shoulder replacement surgery, complex shoulder arthroscopy (including rotator cuff tears, shoulder dislocations and multi-directional instability), knee ligament reconstruction, and patellofemoral instability. He is currently the team physician for Park Tudor High School and University High School. He is a consulting physician for our USA Gymnastics, USA Track and Field, and USA Diving teams. He has been the head team physician for the USA Men’s and Women’s Worlds Gymnastics Championship Teams for the past two years, representing the United States in London and the Netherlands. He has also served the United States Olympic Committee as a Medical Volunteer at the training camp in Colorado Springs, CO. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and chapters, and has multiple ongoing clinical and biomechanical research initiatives.
Dr. Bicos earned his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. He attended Rush Medical College (Chicago, IL) where he earned his medical degree, and then completed his Orthopedic Surgery residency at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He then went on to sub-specialize in Orthopedic Sports Medicine, completing a fellowship at the University of Connecticut, and now is a member of St. Vincent Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.
Dr. Bicos is a native of the Mid-West region, having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago. He is married and has two children. He enjoys playing golf and remote controlled model aviation, in addition to spending time with his family and friends.
What you will be blogging about: Dr. Bicos will be providing general health information related to arthritis and orthopedics.
If you have a question you would like Dr. Bicos to answer you can comment on this blog or email Kendall Rich Horvatich, Special Events Coordinator for the Arthritis Foundation, at email@example.com.
March 17, 2011
|Treva at the 2011 AF Advocacy Summit|
Name: Treva Strasen
Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Arthritis Condition: Fibromyalgia
Diagnosed in: 1993
How has arthritis affected your life: Fibromyalgia has changed my life on all levels. The activities I previously enjoyed are too strenuous to participate in now so I had to change my physical activities and hobbies. I live every day in constant pain. My body is slow, weak, tired and heavier than before I got sick. The medication and sleep problems slow my thinking and memory. I am currently going back to school so I can get a less strenuous job.
How long and in what capacity have you been connected to the Arthritis Foundation: I have been involved with the Arthritis Foundation since 1994. I have been teaching Arthritis and Fibromyalgia Self Help Classes and I run a monthly Arthritis and Fibromyalgia support group. I am on the AF Northeastern Indiana Leadership Council. I do some public educational teaching and public health fairs for the Arthritis Foundation.
Why do you (volunteer, donate, work, etc.) with Arthritis Foundation: I volunteer with the Arthritis Foundation because I want to educate others with arthritis and fibromyalgia and help them to cope with its everyday challenges. I suffer from fibro and have a nursing degree so I feel I have a lot to offer.
Advice you have for others: Take control. Be a partner in your health care.
A little about you/What you want to know: I am a mother, wife, sister, nurse and patient. My fibromyalgia affects my family and me. They have had to adjust because of my limitations. I am not able to participate in the activities I once used to. I have had to find new hobbies and activities. My rheumatologist has tried many medications out on me with little success. The side effects often outweigh the benefits. I participate in a warm water therapy class and try to balance my work and rest the best I can. I have taken up golf and joined a book club for entertainment. My family is very supportive, though with my boys moving out of the house I miss my helpers. I am currently going back to school so that I can find a more appropriate job that is less physically strenuous. I am an Ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation and am getting more active educating and communicating with the legislators in our state. It is important to make sure that Arthritis is addressed on the national level as a major health care problem. I am interested in new medical advancements in arthritis management.
What you will be blogging about: Coping with arthritis and fibromyalgia, current Arthritis Foundation events and education.
When I tell people I have Systemic JUVENILE Rheumatoid Arthritis, I often get a quizzical look. That's right, people think, "Hey, lady, you're 27-years-old. There's not much juvenile about you." And while this is true, my diagnosis at age 17 gives me the unique experience of being diagnosed as a "child" but living with the disease as an adult.
I was incredibly lucky to make it through my adolescence relatively unscathed. I was healthy and happy for my childhood and many of my teen years. I was able to complete my physical education classes without needing accommodations. I was able to write my English paper rough drafts while gripping a pen in my hand. I was able to open jars of paint in art class without having to ask for help. All of this makes me incredibly lucky.
There are so many things I took for granted before my JRA diagnosis. Here, in no particular order, is a list of things I took for granted while I wasn't flaring:
The bottom of socks. That's right, just the bottoms. When my first major flare happened, I could barely walk, so I would shuffle around my house. While doing this, I managed to wear out the bottoms of almost every pair of socks I owned. Truth.
The ability to brush my teeth by myself. Have you ever tried to open a tube of toothpaste during an arthritis flare? You can barely grip a handrail, let alone something small like a toothpaste cap.
Being medication free. I miss the days where I woke up and was able to drink water without having to choke down a bunch of pills with it.
Bending. Bending anything. Bending at the waist to pick things up, bending my elbows to put a coat on, bending my fingers just because I want to...
Buttoning pants. This is interchangeable with buttoning tops, pulling zippers up and down, and generally putting on any clothes that require movement.
Things not popping. All of the sudden, I can pop anything... neck, toes, jaw, fingers, hips, etc. It's a fun party trick but it gets rather annoying when you roll over at night and everything crackles.
My appetite. At one point, I was dropping weight in a hurry, and not on purpose. My diet turned into consisting of solely Slim Fast Shakes mixed with a ton of highly caloric full fat ice cream. Vitamins, minerals, calories, and fat. Actually... that sounds pretty good right about now...