State Health Department Highlights Programs Designed to Relieve Pain During National Arthritis Awareness Month

1 in 4 New York adults are affected by arthritis, the most common cause of disability

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 16, 2014) -- May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. To help raise awareness and assist people with the challenges of living with arthritis, the New York State Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with the Center for Excellence in Aging and Community Wellness at the University at Albany, is supporting ongoing self-management education and physical activity workshops. The workshops are intended to help people take control of their arthritis by teaching them free and easy ways to reduce pain and limitations.

Arthritis is a debilitating disease that affects the lives of nearly one in four New York adults (24.4%) and is the most common cause of disability in the state and nation. Arthritis can lead to limitations in daily activities, increased time off from work, and diminished quality of life.

There are simple steps individuals can take to help decrease the pain and disability of arthritis, such as maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in physical activity.

"For individuals who have arthritis, the chronic pain can often lead to a lack of physical activity," said Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, "However, in many cases, increasing physical activity is one of the best ways to manage the pain. I encourage individuals with arthritis to take advantage of the many beneficial programs currently available to help manage their symptoms."

Low impact activities such as walking, swimming, and biking are generally safe and appropriate for individuals with arthritis and can play a role in both maintaining a healthy weight and reducing pain; losing as little as five percent of total body weight can reduce stress on knees, hips, and the lower back.

Individuals who have participated in free and low-cost workshops say being more physically active has helped them lose weight, reduce arthritis pain, and decrease their risk of developing other chronic health conditions. To learn more about workshops in your area and sign up, visit the Center for Excellence in Aging and Community Wellness at the University at Albany website, or call 1-877-496-2780.

New York is one of twelve states funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Arthritis Program, which supports evidence-based community interventions to reduce pain and disability and improve the quality of life for people with arthritis. Information about DOH's Arthritis Program can be found at