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September is Healthy Aging Month

Painful Joints: An 'Unspoken' Barrier To Combating Chronic Health

Conditions For African-Americans

Medical Experts Say Early Intervention is Key

WARSAW, Ind., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The statistics are alarming:

-- One in four African-American women over 55 years of age has


-- African-Americans have higher death rates for coronary heart disease

(CHD), coronary artery disease (CAD), and stroke(2).

-- The prevalence of high blood pressure among African-Americans is among

the highest in the world(3).

-- There is an estimate that 80% of black women and 60% of black men are

overweight or obese (which contributes to heart disease, certain

cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes among other chronic health



Keeping weight under control plays a critical role in managing these health issues. However, many African-Americans face a major hurdle: they are living with chronic joint pain.

"Every warning from governmental and non-profit health organizations implores our community to "get moving" because of the positive impact it has on combating these conditions," explains Dr. Charles Nelson, Orthopedic Section Chair, National Medical Association and Zimmer National Speakers Bureau participant. "But we have failed to make the direct link between painful movement and poor health."

A November 2006 Centers For Disease Control (CDC) report revealed that the knee is the joint that causes the most pain(5). Additionally, the CDC reported that African-Americans cite arthritis as the leading condition that limits their daily activities. Arthritis is the third most common problem among African-Americans(6), and arthritis-attributable work limitation disproportionately affects minority groups(7). In a May 2007 report, the CDC projected a nationwide surge in arthritis prevalence, which caused the Arthritis Foundation to warn Americans to take action now to limit future disability(8).

"There is a vicious cycle at play: African-Americans suffer from chronic conditions that require us to exercise. But we also disproportionately suffer from osteoarthritis and chronic pain in our knees and hips that prevent us from exercising," explains Dr. Nelson.

Early intervention is key as there are a wide range of options to alleviating joint pain. The onset of knee or hip discomfort should not be dismissed as one of the natural signs of aging without discussing it with a primary care physician. There have been significant advancements in joint pain treatments. Today's options offer non surgical solutions which provide temporary pain relief and more permanent solutions such as joint replacement. Today's advancements have progressed to address differences in gender. Women account for nearly two thirds of knee replacement procedures in the US(9). African American women benefit from the recent release of the Zimmer(R) Gender Solutions(TM) Knee, the first and only knee replacement shaped specifically to fit a woman's anatomy.

Regaining mobility and being active is critical in helping to manage and defeat chronic health conditions. The health and social care costs related to chronic disease and pain management is on the rise:

-- Heart disease and stroke as well as diabetes account for 30.8% and

9.4% of national health expenditures, respectively(10).

-- The economic cost of obesity in the United States is $117 billion


-- The U.S. government projects that medication costs, the second largest

health expense after hospital bills will grow to 14.6 percent of

national health care spending by 2010. Many co-morbid medical

conditions and pain management are largely "controlled" by costly

prescription drugs(12).

Restoring optimal mobility, eradicating daily pain and taking charge of our health are some of the most important ways that the African-American community can overcome these issues. Pain and poor mobility should not be accepted as a normal part of life. There is help. A primary care physician or joint specialist can provide advice and options to overcome painful movement.

1. African Americans and Diabetes Facts - - American Diabetes Association


2. African Americans and Cardiovascular Disease -- American Heart

Association Statistical Fact Sheet 2007 update.

3. See reference above

4. Losing the War on Weight - - Obesity Rates Growing For

African-Americans. Black Enterprise May 2007

5. New Report Finds Pain Affects Millions -- Centers For Disease Control

(CDC) press release Nov. 15 2006

6. Self-help care in older African Americans with arthritis -- Geriatric

Nursing -- Volume 22 Issue 3 pg 135-138

7. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention, Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Prevalence

and Impact of Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis -- US, 2002.

8. Arthritis Prevalence Limitations To Skyrocket -- Arthritis Foundation

press release, May 3, 2007

9. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.

10. Addressing the Nation's Leading Killers -- At a Glance 2007, Division

for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. US Department of Health and

Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National

Center for Health Statistics.

11. F as in Fat -- Trust for America's Health,; August 1, 2006

12. On file with Zimmer

About Zimmer

In 2006, Zimmer, the global leader in orthopaedics launched Back In The Groove(TM), an education-based community partnership that provides African-American arthritis patients and their caregivers with unprecedented access to information about knee and hip replacement options. More information can be found at Headquartered in Warsaw, Indiana, Zimmer is the industry pioneer in the design and development of less invasive procedures and gender-specific knee replacement technology that offers new hope to arthritis patients, among other orthopaedic innovations.

Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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