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Weeklong Series on Arthritis: Arthritis Part One

| November 19, 2013


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1 in 5 adults living in the United States reports having doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Charlie Davis is a longtime arthritis patient living in Aroostook County. He recalls when he realized he had a chronic health problem. He says “I’m a flooring contractor and it got to be harder and harder to be on my knees and just manipulate my bones and joints…” That pain Charlie Davis was feeling became a constant.  It got so bad he finally went to his doctor at the Aroostook Medical Center who diagnosed Davis with arthritis. He says the diagnosis changed his life. “You wanna go see about it because it just gets worse and it doesn’t get better until you see about it,” says Davis. Davis is now one of millions of Americans living with the disease. In fact, this number is up from 1 in 6 adults in 1998, and that number continues to increase as the population increases according to the Arthritis Foundation. Dr. Russell Donnelly is an Orthopedic Surgeon at the Aroostook Medical Center and says “Arthritis, the term means inflammation of the joint. Statistically we most commonly see osteoarthritis, but there are other kinds of less common arthritis notably rheumatoid arthritis.” Dr. Donnelly says most people may not realize the debilitating impact arthritis can have. For example…

-Arthritis is second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability.

-39 million physician visits and more than 500,000 hospitalizations are attributable to arthritis.

-Arthritis is the one of the most prevalent chronic health conditions.

-When both direct/indirect costs (such as lost wages) are combined, arthritis costs the U.S. economy more than $124 billion per year.

Dr. Donnelly says getting an arthritis diagnosis can make all the difference in a treatment protocol working. He says its important patients not take muscle or joint pain too lightly. “Typically if you have arthritis it’s usually a gradual process that doesn’t go away but may not be traceable to a single injury,” says Dr. Donnelly. As for Davis, he’s enjoying life a lot more. He retired from contracting work, is on arthritis medication and taking things a lot easier. But above else, he’s managing his disease and not letting the arthritis MANAGE HIM. “It has, I don’t work myself into a frenzy anymore I used to work very long, very intense hours trying to make a living I know that I have this limitation so I just work within that,” says Davis.



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