The Roundup -


Programs Are Available In MT To Help People With Arthritis


In Montana, arthritis impacts the lives of thousands of adults.

Recent statistics show this condition currently impacts 27 percent, or 215,000 Montana adults.

Additionally, 31 percent of adults with arthritis report they are not physically active.

Fortunately, the Department of Public and Health and Human Services (DPHHS) offers programs that help people with arthritis become more active. “People living with arthritis and other chronic conditions need to know that there are resources available to them to help lessen their pain and improve their quality of life,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper.

The Montana Arthritis Program offers physical activity and self-management education programs, such as the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, Walk with Ease and Stanford’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, “These programs are proven to reduce the negative effects associated with arthritis and other chronic conditions,” Opper said.

Over the past 3 years, these programs have benefitted over 1,500 Montanans.

According to Heather Welch of the DPHHS Arthritis Program, anyone is eligible to participate. Welch adds that classes run year round and many of the sites have indoor space available for walking during winter months. “Some sites charge a fee, but some do not,” Welch said. “However, scholarships are available for those unable to pay at sites where a fee is required.”

Classes are available in Billings, Bozeman, Broadus, Butte, Chinook, Columbus, Cut Bank, Dillon, Florence, Fort Belknap, Glasgow, Glendive, Hamilton, Havre, Helena, Kalispell, Lewistown, Libby, Livingston, Miles City, Missoula, Plains, Plentywood, Polson, Scobey, Shelby, Sidney, White Sulphur Springs and Wisdom. Several cities have classes available at more than one location. To find a class or for more information on Montana’s Arthritis Program go to The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend all adults, including those with arthritis, participate in 150 minutes per week or more of at least moderate intensity physical activity.

Compared to people without chronic conditions, adults with a chronic condition, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes or obesity, are more likely to report work disability, serious psychological distress, and limitations on social activities outside their home. Adults with arthritis as one of their chronic conditions are even more likely to report these negative effects. Non-drug options to reduce pain and improve function include increasing physical activity and participating in self-management programs.


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