Pardee Hospital

WIN 2016

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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17 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m W I N T E R 2 016 S P I R I T O F W O M E N SHUTTERSTOCK T he numbers look daunting: more than 100 different types of arthritis, more than 50 million Americans affected by these painful joint diseases. But the leading cause of disability in the United States is also the subject of widespread research into new and better treatments and, of course, the ultimate goal of a cure. "With a larger focus on categorizing forms of arthritis through genetic causes, we are closer to a cure and more effective treatments," says Marcy O'Koon, senior director of consumer health for the Arthritis Foundation. TAKING MATTERS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS One of the most promising avenues of pain relief involves becoming proactive about managing and treating your arthritis, says Cindy McDaniel, senior vice president of consumer health for the Arthritis Foundation. "What we have been focused on all these years is empowering patients to work with physicians," she says. "There are a lot of new treatments, and people are living really well if they can find the right treatment." To work toward that goal, the Arthritis Foundation offers a number of tools you can use to monitor your symptoms and care plans. In June 2015, for example, the foundation introduced a hard copy worksheet, developed with rheumatologists, that asks about your ability to participate in daily tasks. Your scores allow you and your doctor to compare how you feel from one week to the next. In addition, last fall the Arthritis Foundation launched the Your Exercise Solution app for both Apple and Android devices (as well as a web tool). The technology helps you find exercise and activities that will work for your activity level as well as your care plan. MEDICATION ADVANCEMENTS New developments in arthritis medication also look promising, says O'Koon. "Hands down, the development of biologic response modifiers, or biologics, has been a game changer for people living with arthritis," she says. "[Biologics are] drugs that are genetically engineered from a living organism, such as a virus, gene or protein, to simulate the body's natural response to infection and disease. They target proteins, cells and pathways responsible for the symptoms and damage of rheumatoid arthritis and other types of inflammatory arthritis." O'Koon explains that before biologics, arthritis treatment was limited to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), corticosteroids and steroids. "These are still used today in combination with biologics, but the difference is biologics can control the progression of the disease," she adds, although patients may still experience surges of inflammation causing severe pain (called flares), stiffness and illness. The positive overall impact of biologics during the past decade is clear, says O'Koon. "If you attended the Arthritis Foundation's national juvenile arthritis (JA) conference 10 to 15 years ago, you would have seen a number of children living with JA who were enabled by the use of wheelchairs," she says. "Today, you'd see few children with JA in wheelchairs, and this is directly tied to recent advancements in treatment." Dr. David Pisetsky, a rheumatologist at the Duke University School of Medicine and current president of the United States Bone and Joint Initiative, agrees that biologics are also an important new tool for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). "With RA, the goal is an elimination of symptoms," he says. EARLY EFFORTS PAY OFF Prompt treatment of arthritis is key, says Dr. Pisetsky. In the near future, new tools that help patients provide accurate information to their doctors may enable more timely diagnoses of arthritis. And in the not-so-near future, says O'Koon, research may lead to arthritis being diagnosed from bloodwork at an annual physical "before symptoms even surface." But no matter which type of arthritis is diagnosed, says Dr. Pisetsky, certain actions will be helpful to patients across the board: losing weight (when appropriate), getting adequate sleep, reducing stress and exercising regularly. "Getting strong and getting moving is an important step in reducing [arthritis] pain," he adds. • Arthritis symptoms Many people mistakenly believe that arthritis is an old person's disease, says Dr. David Pisetsky, current president of the United States Bone and Joint Initiative, and consequently don't talk to their medical provider when they start experiencing symptoms. But the disease can strike at any age, so let your physician know if you're experiencing such joint symptoms as: • stiffness • pain • swelling • decreased range of motion d :

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