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Doctors Need to Improve Guidance on Arthritis: Study
Date:3/14/2011

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors today are more likely to advise obese arthritis patients to lose weight than 10 years ago, but they still fall short on counseling patients to exercise or learn about pain-management techniques, a new study finds.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at how well the health care system met arthritis-management goals set by the federal government in 2000 as part of a program called Healthy People 2010.

Noting that only one of the three key objectives was achieved -- recommending weight loss -- the study authors said physicians are missing important opportunities to help arthritis patients manage their pain and disability.

"Doctors are pressed for time and may be focused on medications rather than behaviors," said lead author Dr. Charles Helmick, a medical epidemiologist at the Arthritis Program of the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "They may not know how to connect people with the right sort of education or exercise programs."

About 46 million U.S. adults suffer from arthritis, making it one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States, according to background information in the study.

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease, results from wear and tear as people age. Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, can occur at any age, and is believed to have a genetic basis. Symptoms for both include inflammation and stiffness of the joints, and pain.

Weight loss, arthritis education and exercise are known to improve pain and quality of life for arthritis patients, according to the study, published in the March/April issue of Annals of Family Medicine.

The U.S. government goals were developed with input from many professional organizations, said Hemlick. "Our purpose was to try to achieve highe
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