Coping with Arthritis in Its Many Forms
Use It or Lose It continued...
Support groups and arthritis education can help people learn
how to listen to their disease, and cope with it. "The psychological
aspects are very important because that's what changes people's lives,"
Participants learn practical things, such as how to: get up
off the floor after a fall, protect joints with careful use and assistive
devices, drive a car, get comfortable sleep, use heat and cold treatments, talk
with their doctors, and cope with emotional aspects of pain and disability.
They may also learn to acquire and maintain what health experts have long
touted -- a positive attitude.
Health education not only improves quality of life, but also
lowers health-care costs, and the benefits are lasting, according to studies at
Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif. Four years after a short Arthritis
Self-Management Program, participants still reported significantly less pain
and made fewer physician visits, even though disability increased. The benefits
came, not from the specifics taught, but from improved ability to cope with the
consequences of arthritis -- in other words, confidence. "It's the same
thing that any good coach tries to instill," says Halsted R. Holman, M.D.,
Learning to understand their disease can also help make
people less likely to fall victim to fraud. Because they have a painful,
incurable condition, people with arthritis are among the prime targets for
fraud and spend nearly a billion dollars annually on unproved remedies, largely
diets and supplements.
A claim describing the relationship between a nutrient or
dietary ingredient and a disease, such as arthritis, cannot be made on the
label or in labeling of a food or dietary supplement unless the claim is
authorized by FDA. In order for FDA to consider authorizing the use of a health
claim, there must be significant agreement among qualified experts that the
health claim is scientifically valid. As of December 1996, FDA had not
authorized any health claims for a relationship between any food or dietary
supplement ingredient and arthritis. Sometimes, however, food or dietary
supplement products are found on the market with unauthorized claims.