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Help with Arthritis


May 23, 2016

Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936

               Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391


Programs are available in Montana to help adults with arthritis

Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials say that more than 1 in 4 adult Montanans report having arthritis. Fortunately, there are programs in Montana to help address this issue.

The Montana Arthritis Program collaborates with sites across the state to implement the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, the Walk with Ease Program, the Enhance Fitness Program and the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed by Stanford University. Anyone is eligible to participate in these classes, which are held year round. 

“The goals of the Montana Arthritis Program are to help reduce pain, decrease activity limitations, improve physical abilities, and add confidence to help people manage their arthritis,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper. “This program has helped thousands of Montanans with their arthritis, but our goal is to boost participation even more.” 

According to Arthritis Program manager Heather Welch, some sites charge a fee, but some do not. “However, scholarships are available for those unable to pay at sites where a fee is required,” she said.

Arthritis affects an estimated 50 million U.S. adults, and is the most common cause of disability in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the annual cost for all Montanans seeking care for arthritis is $413 million, and the cost of missed work days is around $53 million. Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders.

“Scientific studies have shown that physical activity can reduce pain, improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis,” Welch said. “Physical activity can also help manage other chronic conditions that are common among adults with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The general recommendation for all adults, including those with arthritis, is to participate in 150 minutes per week or more of at least moderate intensity physical activity.”

To find a class near you or more information about the Montana Arthritis Program please visit their website at www.dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/arthritis or contact Heather Welch at (406) 444-0958 or hwelch@mt.gov.