April 2012 


Arthritis E-Library 24 / 7

Going to the Arthritis Foundation’s E-Library is as convenient as click-and-view.

Showing now is Immunology and Arthritis Diseases, focusing on treatments and self management for rheumatoid arthritis. Learn from two physicians, a fitness specialist, and a social worker. Tune in for the question-and-answer session. Thanks are expressed to Abbott Pharmaceutical for their support of this program and webcast. Click here to view this webcast.

Also featured in the E-Library is Today’s Options for Osteoarthritis Management. Co-sponsored with the Hospital for Special Surgery, this presentation is the 11th forum in the annual Charles L. Christian Symposium. The comprehensive program includes an OA overview, research update, exercise, physical therapy, and nutrition. Click here to view this webcast.

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Juvenile Arthritis and Parent Mentors

To contact your local Arthritis Foundation Chapter for information and resources for families who have a child with arthritis, please see below.

Eastern Pennsylvania
111 S. Independence Mall East
Suite 500 - Bourse Building
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 215-574-3060
Email: info.epa@arthritis.org

Long Island
501 Walt Whitman Road
Melville, NY 11747
(631) 427-8272
Email: info.li@arthritis.org

New Jersey
555 Route 1 South, Suite 320
Iselin, NJ 08830
Phone: 732-283-4300
Email: info.nj@arthritis.org

New York
122 East 42nd Street, 18th Floor
New York NY 10168-1898
Phone: 212-984-8700
Email: info.ny@arthritis.org

Northeastern New York
1717 Central Ave, Ste. 105
Albany, NY 12205
(518) 456-1203
tvanier@arthritis.org

Northeastern New York
1717 Central Ave, Ste. 105
Albany, NY 12205
(518) 456-1203
tvanier@arthritis.org

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It’s Amazing What People Can Do

Ashlee Furnace, who is only in her mid-twenties, has come full circle as it relates to her arthritis.

When first diagnosed as a teen, arthritis was a private matter. Even though her father and mother participated in Arthritis Foundation fund raising events, Ashlee remained quiet on the topic outside of the family. “I did not know a lot about arthritis,” says Ashlee. “I thought people would say: my grandparents have it – it’s no big deal. I also went the other way, fearing that people would think it was terrible and want to help me. I just wanted to be 17 and in school.”

Simply wanting to be 17 and in school is a perfectly normal and perhaps even necessary step in learning to live with arthritis. When diagnosed with a life-changing disease such as arthritis, it is usual for people to experience a progression of emotional reactions. These stages have been identified as denial, bargaining, anger, depression or sadness, and acceptance. So, just as Ashlee learned about taking medication and adapting her activities, she also learned to accept her arthritis. As it turned out, needing surgery served as turning point: “It all changed when my wrist was replaced. I had already had a shoulder replaced, but that was easy to hide because it was during the summer and I was at home.  My wrist, though, was done in my last year of college. My arthritis became evident, everyone knew. I asked myself, what am I going to do now?” The answer was to be more open about her arthritis, which included becoming involved with the Arthritis Foundation.

Ashlee describes this transformation as liberating: “I became open to more things and began connecting with other people. I used to be quite shy. I didn’t want to go swimming, or wear a tank top. In the dorm at college, I would sneak taking my medicine. Now, the arthritis is simply a part of my life. My glass is half full, being open about my arthritis has made it more full. Part of that is through my participation with the Arthritis Foundation -- participating with the local chapter is fun!” In December 2011 Ashlee served as local hero for the Northeastern New York Chapter’s Jingle Bell Run, also taking top honors as individual fund raiser. (In the photo to the left, Ashlee crosses the Jingle Bell Run Finish line.) Due to this involvement, the fact of her arthritis became an open topic: “I gave a speech at the ceremony. There was a big group of people there – co-workers, family, friends – who did not necessarily know what I was going through. Now they understand arthritis and me.”


Ashlee’s experiences have provided her with great insight: “This is the card I was dealt, I can’t change it, but I can change the way I react to my situation. Even though I have arthritis and have limitations, it does not slow me down. The arthritis and my association with the Arthritis Foundation have brought me to new things and people.” In closing, she shares these thoughts with others who have arthritis: “You don’t have to do it on your own. You don’t have to be closed off. I learned to connect with people who are just like me and that has helped me a lot. Don’t be afraid to reach out.”

Growing up with arthritis certainly has its difficulties. After all, Ashlee has already had two joint replacement surgeries and she is only 26 years old. And yet, living with arthritis can also stimulate personal development that brings it own rewards. If you would like to ask a question of Ashlee, email her at NortheastReporter@arthritis.org.

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Juvenile Arthritis Q & A

It’s been called “growing pains” and parents have been told “your child will outgrow it.” But what if the child’s pain is actually juvenile arthritis? If so, then incorrect information can be harmful.

Just like arthritis in adults, early treatment is the key to success. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), the most prevalent type of juvenile arthritis, is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in the joints. The inflammation damages joints, sometimes severely.

Three pediatric rheumatologists have been asked a question about arthritis in children. Here are their answers.

Question: What are the symptoms of juvenile arthritis? What should parents be alert to?
Answered by: Elizabeth Candell Chalom, MD

By definition, juvenile arthritis (JA) involves inflammation (pain, swelling, and stiffness) in at least one joint for at least 6 weeks. The most common symptoms are joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. The stiffness is usually worse in the morning and after prolonged sitting.  It is improved by moving the joint around, walking, stretching, etc.  (This is the opposite of growing pains and most mechanical joint pain, which tend to be better in the morning but worse after physical activity.)  Many parents of children with JA say their child “walks around like an old man/woman” in the morning, and then seems fine later on in the day. Most joint pain that is not associated with joint swelling and/or morning stiffness is not due to JA. Some forms of JA can be associated with high fevers or rashes. Some children can also have muscle weakness. Some can have low back pain.

 

 

Question: Should parents be concerned about the medication their child is taking for arthritis?
Answered by: Beth Gottlieb, MD

We have learned that early treatment is necessary in order to prevent joint damage. Even if a child does not have much pain or many symptoms, damage will occur. So, without medications, joint damage is a guarantee. On the other hand medications may or may not cause side effects. With proper monitoring, the medications are safe and their benefits far outweigh the risk of not using them.

 

 

Question: What causes JIA?
Answered by: Lilliana Barillas-Arias, MD

We do not know what causes JIA. We think there is probably a combination of factors, including genetic, environmental, and infectious processes. Research suggests that most likely there is an underlying genetic predisposition in certain individuals. That means that a person is born with a tendency to develop arthritis. If that person is then exposed to certain environmental or infectious agents, it triggers a reaction of their immune system to attack the joint lining.

 

 

Thanks are expressed to the doctors. Elizabeth Candell Chalom, MD, is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Director of Pediatric Rheumatology at St. Barnabas Medical Center. Beth Gottlieb, MD, is Chief of the Department of Pediatric Rheumatology at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Program Director of Fellowship Training, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Hofstra North Shore LIJ School of Medicine. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Northeast Regional Reporter. Lilliana Barillas-Arias, MD, is Assistant Professor of Pediatric Rheumatology at Albany Medical Center.

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The Summer Camp Experience is for Everyone

New this summer…A camp for kids from New York State

Double H Ranch, a Hole in the Wall Camp, opens its rich and varied camping experience for children and teens (10 to 16 years old) who have arthritis. The dates are Tuesday, July 17 through Sunday, July 22, 2012. Located in the Adirondacks near Lake George, campers play team sports, swim, and ride horses. There is arts and crafts, a petting zoo, and creative arts for drama, music, writing. And that is not all: there is a trip to Six Flags Great Escape, evening camp fires, and a Wishboat Ceremony at the end of the week. Campers with arthritis will join with children with other medical conditions. The experience is memorable, fun, exciting, and empowering. For information on attending the Double H Ranch contact your local Arthritis Foundation office. Click here for telephone numbers and email addresses.

New Jersey’s Camp CHAT (Children Have Arthritis Too) meets at the Easter Seal’s accessbile facility, Camp Merry Heart in Hackettstown from July 22 to July 27, 2012. Reserved for the Arthritis Foundation during this time period, campers ages 8 to 17 can challenge themselves on the zip line, do rock climbling, get messy with paint ball, go boating and fishing, and swim in the outdoor pool. In addition to the physical activities there are arts and crafts sessions, fun evening activities including a dance, a talent show, and a scavenger hunt. Young adults with arthritis attend as mentors and lead educational activities. Disease self management techniques are also taught. For information and an application, go to http://www.arthritis.org/new-jersey/juvenile-arthritis.php. Scholarships are available. Appreciation is expressed to Camp CHAT sponsors, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows – New Jersey Grand Lodge, the Hummingbird Foundation, the Fialkoff Family, Toys “R” Us, Inc., The Provident Bank Foundation, Church & Dwight Employee Giving Fund, and the Fred C. Rummel Foundation.

 

In eastern Pennsylvania, there is Camp JRA – Juveniles Reaching Achievement – for children and teens ages 8 to 18 who have a rheumatic disease. Conducted at Camp Victory in Millville, which is fully accessible, campers will enjoy air conditioned cabins, fishing, and camp fires. But that is not all! Come for the ropes course, the climbing wall, drama, boating, and more. Camp JRA provides a safe, supportive community where young people can try new things and gain different perspectives without fear of failure. Daily health education games help to improve campers' disease and treatment knowledge and increase campers' self-care abilities. For information and application, go to http://www.arthritis.org/eastern-pennsylvania/camp-jra.php. http://www.arthritis.org/eastern-pennsylvania/camp-jra.php

All camps feature 24 hour medical coverage. Staff is carefully screened through references and background checks.

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With fourteen locations in New Jersey, New York, and eastern Pennsylvania, there most likely is a Let’s Move Together, the Arthritis Foundation Walk, near you.

Join the Walk to support the Arthritis Foundation and help build awareness of arthritis in your community. Here is another reason: participating in the Walk is fun! It is a gala outing for a great cause. Form a team today and see how good you will feel.

  • Let’s Move Together, the Arthritis Foundation Walk is being held in the following communities.
    New Jersey
    Bergen County, in Teaneck at Fairleigh Dickinson University on Sunday, May 20.
    Camden County, in Cherry Hill at Challenge Grove Park on Sunday, May 20
    Essex County, at Verona Park on Sunday, May 6.
    Mercer County, in Hamilton at Veterans Park on Sunday, April 29.
    Middlesex and Union County, in Edison at Middlesex County College on Sunday, May 20.
    Monmouth and Ocean County, in Farmingdale at the Historic Village at Allaire on Sunday, May 6.
    Morris, Sussex, and Warren County, in Morris Plains at Central Park on Sunday, June 3.
  • New York
    Albany at the Crossings Park on Sunday, May 20.
    Hudson Valley, at Thomas Bull Memorial Park on Saturday, May 5.
    Jamestown at the Jamestown Audubon Nature Center on Saturday, May 5.
    Manhattan, at Historic Battery Park on Saturday, June 23.
    Rochester at Genesee Valley Park on Saturday, May 12.
    West Babylon, Long Island, at Belmont Lake State Park on Saturday, May 12.
  • Eastern Pennsylvania
    Lehigh Valley, in Bethlehem at Sand Island on Sunday, June 3.
    Philadelphia, at Franklin D. Roosevelt Park on Saturday, May 19.

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In Appreciation to our Region’s Let’s Move Together Arthritis Walk Medical Honorees


“Bravo!” to our Medical Honorees for the 2012 Walks.


These leaders are committed to working towards the success of their local Walks. Each physician treats people, both young and older, who have arthritis. This close understanding of the effects of arthritis spurs their commitment. Thank you physicians!

Mark Bele, DO is a rheumatologist at Crystal Run Healthcare and on staff at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, NY. His Walk is in New York’s Hudson Valley at the Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery, NY, on Saturday, May 5. Registration opens at 8:30am and the Walk begins at 10am. To join Dr. Bele’s team go to http://www.hvaw.kintera.org/jointeffort.

 

 

David Dickerson, MD is an orthopedic surgeon with Performance Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Toms River and Shrewsbury, NJ and is on staff at Community Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center, and Kimball Medical Center. His Walk for the Monmouth and Ocean County areas is in Farmingdale, NJ at the Historic Village at Allaire on Sunday, May 6. Registration opens at 8:30am and the Walk begins at 10am.To join Dr. Dickerson’s team go to http://www.monoceaw.kintera.org/performanceortho.

 

Michael A. Kelly, MD is an orthopedic surgeon and Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Department of Rehabilitation at Hackensack University Medical Center. His Walk for Bergen County New Jersey is in Teaneck at Fairleigh Dickinson University on Sunday, May 20. Registration opens at 8:30am and the Walk begins at 10am.To join Dr. Kelly’s team go to http://www.bergenaw.kintera.org/mikesteam

 

 

 

David P. Roye, MD is St. Giles Professor of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at Columbia University, Director of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York, and Executive Medical Director of Columbia Cerebral Palsy Center. His Walk is in Manhattan at Historic Battery Park on Saturday, June 23. Registration opens at 8:30am and the Walk begins at 10am. To join Dr. Roye’s team go to www.newyorkaw.kintera.org/nypcolumbia2012nyp.

 

 

Barry Schimmer, MD is a rheumatologist with Pennsylvania Rheumatology Associates and is on staff at Pennsylvania Hospital. His Walk is in South Philadelphia at Franklin D. Roosevelt Park on Saturday, May 19. Registration opens at 11:30am and the Walk begins at 1pm. To join Dr. Roye’s team go to http://www.phillyaw.kintera.org/pennsylvaniarheumatology

 

David J. Weissberg, MD is an orthopedic surgeon with Long Island Orthopedic Solutions in Huntington Station, NY and on staff at Huntington Hospital and the Melville Surgery Center. His Walk is in West Babylon at Belmont Lake State Park on Saturday, May 12. Registration opens at 10am and the Walk begins at 11am. To join Dr. Weissberg’s team go to http://tinyurl.com/LongIslandWalk-TeamWeissberg.

 


 

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Grants Awarded to Northeast Region Researchers

Four researchers from our Northeast Region have been awarded prestigious Innovative Investigator Grants, totaling $800,000 over two years from the Arthritis Foundation. These grants fund projects that foster new ideas. Many of these creative ideas would not be pursued without Arthritis Foundation support.

Two of the grants fund projects in pediatric rheumatology. Yukiko Kimura, MD, from Hackensack University Medical Center will pilot of the implementation of four recently developed standard treatment plans for systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis and Suzanne C. Li, MD, PhD, also from Hackensack Medical Center, will pilot the use of newly developed standard treatment plans for juvenile localized scleroderma. Both studies serve as the first step in the process of scientifically determining the effectiveness of various treatments and, ultimately, will bring about improved health and well being for children. Click here for an Arthritis Today article that relates to Dr. Kimura’s research.

Two additional researchers are looking into the biological processes of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Gregg Silverman, MD, of New York University School of Medicine, will focus on B-cells in the immune system. B-cells, which are one component of the immune system, are involved in the auto-immune process of rheumatoid arthritis. Working in the area of osteoarthritis is Hui B. Sun, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. It has long been known that exercise is beneficial for osteoarthritis. Dr. Sun is seeking to determine whether exercise can increase levels of a substance that protects the cartilage from being worn away. These research programs can very possibly lead to improved and even new  treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

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Youth Ambassador Program Begins
Join the Movement

Manuel is nine years old, and Brianna is 17. Plus there is Gabrielle, 16; Alia, 15; and Zachary, 13. What they have in common, in addition to having arthritis, is that they are all Arthritis Foundation Youth Ambassadors. In this role, their mission is to help put a face to the diseases known as arthritis, especially juvenile arthritis, for our elected officials.

Broader public knowledge about arthritis leads to greater public support. With that, we have the capability to transform the way our society views and responds to arthritis.  These Youth Ambassadors tell their special and personal story in order help increase funding for research, to help ensure access to health care to for almost 50 million people with arthritis, and speak on behalf of the 300,000 children and teens who have juvenile arthritis, just like they do.

To join our Youth Ambassador movement, contact your local Arthritis Foundation office. Speaking out about arthritis will lead us onward to even greater accomplishments.  

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Your Planned Gift is Much Appreciated

When it comes to planned giving, Celia Clark knows what she is talking about. She is a lawyer, long time member of the Arthritis Foundation, member of the New York Board of Directors, and self-described arthritis patient. She is also a proponent of planned giving.
 
Planned giving is just that. It is a gift that planned for, it is given at a future date, as opposed to a donation made right now in present time. Often a planned gift is included in a person’s estate and included in the will.

Celia Clark begins her discussion of planned giving with professional advice on why it is important to have a will. “With a valid will, by law your wishes will be honored,” comments Ms. Clark. “If you wish to leave the bulk of your estate to a nephew or friend who is in need, or to a favored charity, that is what will happen. Without a will, or with a will that is not valid, your estate will go to the relative with the closest degree of kinship.”

For a will to be valid it must be written out and witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries. It is advisable to have it notarized. Best yet, employ a lawyer to draft your will. Ms. Clark continues: “Writing out a note naming where you want your estate to go is not enough. Some people fear the expense of going to a lawyer. For a simple will, going to a general practice lawyer is fine. It does not have to be overly expensive. Without a lawyer, you are taking a big chance.” This is especially important if you have children who would require a guardian if you were to pass. If a guardian is not named in your will. then a court will make that decision.

Naming the Arthritis Foundation in your will provides tremendous benefit to the Arthritis Foundation and even to you. Planned gifts are a primary means of support for arthritis research. Your support will live on for years as people benefit from improved treatments for arthritis, treatments that may have been developed as a result of your thoughtful and planned support.

Celia Clark plans on supporting the Arthritis Foundation. These are her reasons why: “As an arthritis patient and member of the Board of Directors, I know that the Arthritis Foundation is an effective and compassionate organization with a unique role in the treatment of the disease. The Arthritis Foundation is the only voice that speaks for the patient.”

For information on planned giving for the Arthritis Foundation, contact James Sheridan, Regional Vice President for Development, at jsheridan@arthritis.org. He will be glad to work with you.

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Close to Home

Close to Home is where you want to be, so Arthritis Foundation programs are local, easy to get to, and accessible.

 

Available to you are educational and exercise programs, expos and health summits, even a seminar on Healing Through Creative Arts. Contact information is included to help you register, ask about details, and find out about additional programs.

Eastern Pennsylvania
111 S. Independence Mall East
Suite 500 - Bourse Building
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 215-574-3060
Email: info.epa@arthritis.org

Put your health on your calendar: The Arthritis Foundation, Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter will be hosting four Health Summits for Arthritis educational events in the fall 2012.  Health Summits provide specific information on rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and related treatment options. The summits will be held throughout eastern Pennsylvania in August, September, and October in Berks, Bucks / Montgomery, Lehigh, and Lackawanna / Luzerne counties.  Add you voice to the planning group by joining the Health Summit Committee. For more information please contact Danielle M. Stephens at dmstephens@arthritis.org or 215-574-3060, ext. 112. 

Learn about arthritis: Are you looking for educational information about arthritis, medications, or treatment options?  We have an abundance of literature and information to help you take control of arthritis.  For materials and information, contact Kayla Hadden at khadden@arthritis.org or 215-574-3060, ext. 100.

Long Island
501 Walt Whitman Road
Melville, NY 11747
(631) 427-8272
Email: info.li@arthritis.org

Expo on arthritis: Workshops and music compose the interesting and stress reducing activities at the Arthritis Expo being held on May 9 from 1 to 3pm at the Bellmore Memorial Library. The afternoon begins with workshops on exercise, stress management, today’s nutrition, and pain management. Participants will pick two workshops to attend. Then, enjoy the grand finale of uplifting music performed live by the Moonlight Serenaders. Plus, there will be healthy snacks, door prizes, and the opportunity to make new friends and acquaintances. It certainly will be an afternoon to remember. To register, please call the Arthritis Foundation at (631) 427-8272 or email nsimingt@arthritis.org. Thanks are expressed to Arthritis Expo co-sponsors Bellmore Memorial Library and HealthCare Partners.

New Jersey
555 Route 1 South, Suite 320
Iselin, NJ 08830
Phone: 732-283-4300
Email: info.nj@arthritis.org

Everyone can do Tai Chi: Tai Chi is a set of movements developed thousands of years ago in China. Modern Americans have learned that Tai Chi is an excellent exercise to help improve balance, stamina, coordination and well being. The movements may be performed standing or seated. Tai Chi from the Arthritis Foundation is specially adapted for those that have arthritis, for seniors, or anyone who wants to begin practicing Tai Chi. Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi classes are held in locations throughout New Jersey. For information on how to take Tai Chi, call (732) 283-4300 or email info.nj@artritis.org.

 

Learn to teach the Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi class: A leader training to teach qualified individuals to teach the Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi program will be held in Piscataway at the Francis Parker Home on April 14 and 15 from 8am to 5pm. In addition, a recertification for those who are currently teaching will be held on April 13 from 12 noon to 6pm at the same location. For information on these trainings call (732) 283-4300 or email info.nj@artritis.org.

New York
122 East 42nd Street, 18th Floor
New York NY 10168-1898
Phone: 212-984-8700
Email: info.ny@arthritis.org

Healing through creative arts: The mind-body connection can be powerful. Studies have shown that creative expression through music, writing, visual art, and movement can break the cycle of pain. Explore this topic on Thursday, April 12 from 1 to 5pm when Laury Rappaport, Ph.D., presents Focusing-Oriented Arts Therapy. Included is guided imagery and active engagement in the creative process. Don’t worry about being an artiste, all will benefit and enjoy. This unique program is being held at the Arthritis Foundation’s New York office at 122 E. 42 Street (corner of Lexington Avenue), 18th floor. Registration is required due to limited seating so please call (212) 984-8730 or email info.ny@arthritis.org.

Take care of your bones: Learn how to keep your bones strong in order to live a full and active life by attending a Bone Health Seminar. This program will be held at Hospital for Special Surgery, 535 E. 70 St., Manhattan, on Thursday, May 10 from 11am to 3pm and, a bit further north, in Yonkers at the Grinton I. Will Branch Library, 1500 Central Park Avenue on Tuesday, May 15 from 5:30 to 7:30pm.

To register, call (212) 984-8730  or email info.ny@arthritis.org.

Northeastern New York
1717 Central Ave, Ste. 105
Albany, NY 12205
(518) 456-1203
tvanier@arthritis.org

News note: Thanks are expressed to the sponsors of the Arthritis Expo held recently in Clifton Park: Orthopaedic Associates of Saratoga, Northeast Spine and Wellness, Fast Break Fund, Prestwick Chase, and Anastos Media. The 500 expo participants visited over 30 vendors (see photo on left) and attended educational presentations on arthritis, joint replacement, nutrition, and Tai Chi.

 

Special series in Saragoga: Arthritis education, exercise demonstrations, health screenings, and social gatherings will take place from 11:30am to 12:30pm on the first, second, and third Friday in April, May, and June, and again from September through December 2012 at the Saratoga Senior Center. This series is supported by a grant from the Alfred Z. Solomon Foundation. Be sure to attend! Contact the Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Chapter for further information.

Upstate New York
3300 Monroe Ave, Ste 319
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 264-1480
info.uny@arthritis.org

College scholarship available: Attention high school seniors…the Deb Sheridan Scholarship Fund provides scholarship assistance to high school seniors who have arthritis. If you live in the Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, or Binghamton areas please call the Arthritis Foundation at (585) 264-1480 or email info.uny@arthritis.org to receive an application.

 

Activate your TV: The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program class comes to you on the television. Yes, join class without leaving the comfort of your living room. For those who live in the Town of Webster, tune in to Time Warner Cable Channel 12 on Mondays at 7:30pm. And if you are in Brighton, Pittsford, and Henrietta, get up and moving every morning at 10 on channel 15. Tune in for an energizing time.

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NEW: Question and Answer Column

What is on your mind? What would you like to know?

You are invited to send us your questions about arthritis.

Perhaps you would like information on pain management, or how to get a good night’s sleep. Have you wondered how to enroll in a clinical trial? The Northeast Regional Reporter can help you with an answer.

  • We ask that questions be general in nature, not specific to a person or your particular situation. We can answer a question such as, “What medications are commonly used to treat osteoarthritis?” We cannot answer, “Should I take an NSAID for osteoarthritis in my knee?” Pose your question via email at NortheastReporter@arthritis.org . For your privacy, we will identify you only with your first name and state of residence.

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FIRST Q&A: Question and Answer for April 2012 

Question from Joanne in New York State:

  • I know a lot of people use supplements and natural products for arthritis. Before I start taking a supplement I would like more information on their safety and any side effects.

Answered by Andrew Weinberger, MD, Rheumatologist, New Jersey: 

This is quite a broad topic about which there is much controversy.  I like to start this discussion with patients by saying that I consider a medicine to be anything you use to affect your health whether by mouth, inhalation, or application to your skin, etc., even if it is over-the-counter and not a prescription.  This applies to vitamins, supplements, and natural remedies.

One concern is that, although often not recognized, these nonprescription items are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for safety or effectiveness before they are marketed and dietary supplements are not required to be tested for safety, effectiveness, or their contents.  Prescription drugs do have to meet all those requirements.  Supplements sometimes make remarkable claims that are not verified by their data.

Some supplements may be helpful for some conditions, but others may be harmful.  Supplements should not be used in place of therapies that are known to work.  Another danger in self-medication is the possibility that a condition is not recognized by the patient.  For instance, if someone thought they had osteoarthritis and used a supplement sold for “joint health” but they really had rheumatoid arthritis instead, it would delay treatment that could prevent joint destruction.  Interactions between supplements and with prescription medicines is also a problem.

 There are thousands of supplements, and if you wish to take one, please speak to your health care provider so she or he can give you personalized advice. 

Dr. Weinberger is a member of the Editorial Board of the Northeast Regional Reporter.

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