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Double Trouble -- Arthritis & Diabetes

WebMD Guest Blogger
Charles Helmick, MD, is a medical epidemioligist and scientific lead for the arthritis program at the CDC. His team implements the surveillance, epidemiology, and prevention strategies laid out in the CDC’s National Arthritis Action Plan whose goal is to meet the ambitious Healthy People 2010 objectives for arthritis set down by the agency. Here is some advice from Dr. Helmick on how to stay active, even if you’re battling both arthritis and diabetes.

A Plan of Action

Lots of research focuses on a single medical condition, but many people have more than one ailment. So a logical question is — how do these conditions affect one another?

For instance, a study that my CDC colleagues and I undertook shows that having arthritis in addition to diabetes greatly decreases physical activity levels. And, arthritis is very common among people with diabetes.

People with both diabetes and arthritis face special barriers to being physically active, such as worry about aggravating or causing further joint damage, and uncertainty about which activities are safe.

How can people with both conditions get the physical activity they need?
Most can engage in joint-friendly activities, such as walking, swimming, and biking. In many communities, arthritis-specific group exercise programs are available that may help people with both conditions better manage their disease. For more information on group programs, visit The Arthritis Foundation, the CDC’s arthritis web site, or WebMD’s Arthritis Health Center.

Charles G. (Chad) Helmick, MD
Captain, U.S. Public Health Service
Medical Epidemiologist, Arthritis Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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