Help with arthritis in Montana

Montana Health Journal

State health department offers programs to help Montanans with arthritis

More than 24 million adults with arthritis have activity limitations from their disease. Arthritis limits everyday activities such as holding a cup, lifting a grocery bag, or walking to their car, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report. 
Department of Public Health and Human Services officials say that more than 1 in 4 adult Montanans report having arthritis.
Fortunately, there are programs in Montana to help address this issue.
The Montana Arthritis Program collaborates with sites across the state to implement the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, the Walk with Ease Program, the Enhance Fitness Program and the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed by Stanford University.  Everyone is eligible to participate in these classes, which are held year round. 
Arthritis symptoms keep thousands of Montanan’s from engaging in their daily routines. “The goals of the Montana Arthritis Program are to help reduce pain, decrease activity limitations, improve physical abilities, and add confidence to help people manage their arthritis,” Health and Human Services Director Sheila Hogan said. “This program has helped thousands of Montanans with their arthritis, but our goal is to boost participation even more.” 
According to Health and Human Services Arthritis Program Manager Heather Welch, help is available for sites that charge a fee. “It’s important to note that scholarships are available for those unable to pay at sites where a fee is required,” she said. 
When people with arthritis engage in physical activity they can reduce their arthritis symptoms by up to 40 percent. Yet, many adults with arthritis are not physically active. About 1 in 3 adults with arthritis report that they do not engage in physical activity during leisure time. “Physical activity can also help manage other chronic conditions that are common among adults with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
“The general recommendation for all adults, including those with arthritis, is to participate in 150 minutes per week or more of at least moderate intensity physical activity,” Welch said. Adults with arthritis also can reduce their symptoms by participating in disease management education programs. 
To find a class near you or more information about the Montana Arthritis Program visit or contact Heather Welch at (406) 444-0958 or
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