Joint Care: Doctor Urges Early Intervention

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“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,� says Dr. Michael L. Parks MD.

[Healthcare News]


Early intervention is the key to alleviating debilitating joint pains that severely and disproportionately affects African Americans, studies and a leading doctor say.


“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,” says Dr. Michael L. Parks MD. “But we have failed to make the direct link between painful movement and poor health.”


Referring to national studies, Dr. Parks notes that one in four African American women over 55 years of age has diabetes; African-Americans have higher death rates for coronary heart disease (CHD), coronary artery disease (CAD), and stroke;
the prevalence of high blood pressure among African Americans is among the highest in the world; 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 conditions; keeping weight under control plays a critical role in managing these health issues.  Dr. Parks is a Zimmer National Speakers Bureau participant.


However, many African-Americans face a major hurdle: they are living with chronic joint pain, he notes.


A November 2006 Centers For Disease Control (CDC) report revealed that the knee is the joint that causes the most pain. 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 and arthritis-attributable work limitation disproportionately affects minority groups.


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.


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


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, he adds. 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. Advancements have progressed to address differences in gender.


Women account for nearly two thirds of knee replacement procedures in the US. Knee replacement shaped specifically to conform with a woman's body, is now available, called  the Zimmer Gender Solutions Knee; described as 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 chronic health conditions as health and social care costs related to chronic disease and pain management is on the rise. Consider that:


Heart disease and stroke as well as diabetes account for 30.8% and 9.4% of national health expenditures, respectively; the economic cost of obesity in the United States is $117 billion annually; 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 pre scri ption drugs .


Restoring optimal mobility, eradicating daily pain and taking charge of health are some of the most important ways that the African American community can overcome these issues.


Zimmer, a leading company in orthopedics, in 2006 launched "Back In The Groove," an education-based community partnership that provides African American arthritis patients and their caregivers with access to information about knee and hip replacement options.


See www.backinthegroove.zimmer.com.


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