Taking control of arthritis becomes a joint venture between volunteers, patients, physicians and other health-care providers at the Eighth Annual Arthritis Expo on Wednesday at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road.
"We want people to come out and get educated; one in three adults have some form of arthritis or related diseases, so it is important for people to know about prevention and control," said Susan Sweeney, director of the Tucson office of the Arthritis Foundation Greater Southwest Chapter.
"The expo offers a free opportunity in a centralized location for the community at large to talk with health-care providers and other representatives about new research, innovative services and the treatment of arthritis."
Sweeney said the statistics pertaining to arthritis - a term that encompasses about 100 diseases of the joints including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and fibromyalgia - are sobering. Arthritis is the No. 1 cause of disability in America, with costs to the U.S. economy totaling $128 billion annually. The disease affects 1.7 million Arizonans, including 6,000 children.
"I think when a lot of people think of arthritis, they say, 'I will go to the store and get some Tylenol,' and they think that is the treatment, whereas often there are greater issues," Sweeney said. "People … need to know when they can actually take care of themselves at home and when they need to see a doctor."
Volunteer Shaye Edgeton has experienced the emotional and physical ramifications of the disease. Edgeton's father was disabled by arthritis, and she has struggled with it personally since childhood.
"When I was a child, I couldn't keep up with other kids. That was in a little town in West Texas back in the days when we didn't know what rheumatology was: We just knew we didn't feel good.
"I want to raise involvement and awareness in the community about what the Arthritis Foundation does and how it is a resource for helping people learn to cope with arthritis and disorders like fibromyalgia," said Edgeton, who is assisting with the expo and is chairwoman of the Jingle Bell 5K Run & Fun Walk for Arthritis fundraiser on Dec. 4 at Reid Park.
Sweeney said the upcoming expo is all about exploring resources. About 30 exhibitors will come together to address arthritis prevention, control and treatment through exercise, medications, nutrition, physical therapy and weight control.
There will be free health screenings, information about insurance and senior living, educational seminars and presentations by noted rheumatologists and orthopedic surgeons on topics ranging from symptoms to joint replacement surgery.
"If you don't have arthritis now, you probably will before you die if you live to a ripe old age," Edgeton said. "So it is very important for people to realize what a great cause the Arthritis Foundation is and how much it can help you."
If You Go
• What: Eighth Annual Arthritis Expo - Active Living With Arthritis
• When: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday
• Where: Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road
• Cost: Free
The expo, which is hosted by the Arthritis Foundation Greater Southwest Chapter and presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and the Tucson Orthopaedic Institute, features information on arthritis treatments and research, health screenings, door prizes and giveaways as well as educational seminars by rheumatologists and orthopedic surgeons. For more information call 917-7070.
If you would like to support the Arthritis Foundation, consider joining the Jingle Bell 5K Run & Fun Walk for Arthritis at 9 a.m. Dec. 4 at Reid Park.
The family- and pet-friendly walk and run are open to individuals and teams; all proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation Greater Southwest Chapter local programs and services.
Register or make a donation online at southernarizonajbr.kintera.org/ faf/home/default.asp?ievent= 428910 or call 917-7070 for more information.
Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at email@example.com