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April 26, 2010

Arthritis Awareness Month Observed

COLUMBIA - The month of May has been proclaimed as Arthritis Awareness Month in South Carolina by Gov. Mark Sanford to encourage people to learn more about arthritis, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

“Arthritis is the most common cause of disability, affecting an estimated 46 million adults and limiting activity for 19 million of those who have the disease," said Cora Plass, director of DHEC’s Office of Healthy Aging. “In South Carolina, nearly a million adults are estimated to have arthritis, and more than a third of them have activity limitation attributable to arthritis.”

Plass said the word arthritis means joint inflammation. Arthritis is used to describe more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, tissues that surround joints and other connective tissue. The rheumatic conditions are characterized by pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints and can also involve the immune system and various internal organs of the body.

“It has been proven that early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis, including self-management activities, can help people with arthritis decrease pain, improve function, stay productive, and lower health care costs,” Plass said.

Plass offers these self-management tips to help prevent or delay disability:

  • Take control of your health with knowledge and exercise through scientifically proven programs, such as the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program and the Arthritis Foundation Self-Help Program;
  • Become more physically active through regular moderate activities, such as walking, biking, or swimming;
  • Maintain a healthy weight by including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet;
  • See a doctor early if you have joint pain to determine the appropriate diagnosis and treatment for your condition;
  • Protect your joints, as joint injury can lead to osteoarthritis.

“Addressing the burden and impact of arthritis requires collaborative efforts among many organizations,” Plass said. “We partner with the Arthritis Foundation, the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging, along with many community and faith-based organizations to provide programs that are proven to improve the quality of life for people with arthritis.”

For more information about program locations or to start a program in your area, call 1-800-868-0404 visit DHEC’s website at


For more information:
Thom Berry - (803) 898-3885
E-mail -