On the 1970s NBC sitcom “Sanford & Son,” the late Redd Foxx often would bring up his “ARTHUR-itis,” forming his hand into a claw to illustrate his pain. The prevalence of disability from arthritis or chronic joint symptoms across South Carolina and in nearly 50 million people in the whole country, however, is not a joke.
That’s why the Arthritis Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Region, based in Charlotte, N.C., has added some Christmas cheer to raising awareness about the discomforting medical condition with the “Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.” The event, with a choice of routes for participants 2-4 p.m. Saturday at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, will lead into the complex’s tree lighting and fireworks that evening. Pick from a 5K competitive run, 3- or 1-mile fun run, or a Reindeer Dash, for ages 8 and younger.
Gerald Talley, director of community development for the foundation chapter, which serves the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, said a walk has been “our signature event” on the Grand Strand “for many years,” and that with Broadway inviting the foundation to tie in to its tree lighting, “it was just a good fit.”
He also said with involvement from such individuals as Dr. Petra J. Gheraibeh of Bay Orthopaedic Associates in Georgetown, the run/walk’s medical honoree, and North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marylin Hatley as grand marshal, this event goes beyond Myrtle Beach, covering the Grand Strand from end to end. Also, from the south Strand, Haylee and Kaylee Thomas from St. James High School’s freshman class, identical twins who were each diagnosed at ages 6 and 5, respectively, with junior rheumatoid arthritis – inflammation of many joints – also will be honored.
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Question | What are some aspects about arthritis about which the public might not know, such as how it’s not just a condition affecting older adults?
Answer | Probably one of the biggest things is that children can get arthritis. There are 4,000 children in South Carolina who have junior rheumatoid arthritis. They can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. The only place for pediatric arthritis research in South Carolina is at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, so it’s challenging for parents in the state as for where go for treatment, and how far away they are. ...
The other unknown factoid is there are 100 diseases that are under the arthritis umbrella. That’s everything from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout and psoriatic arthritis.
Q. | How alarming are statistics about arthritis?
A. | The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta just came out with updated data, such as that 987,000 people in South Carolina who have been diagnosed with arthritis, and that 28 percent of all South Carolinians have one of the 100 forms of arthritis ... and 39 percent of all South Carolinians have some sort of arthritis-attributable work limitation.
Q. | What other approaches should people take regarding arthritis or family members coping with the condition?
A. | It’s that perception that unless you’re personally affected, you don’t think about it ... and that it’s not cancer. It does not defeat the fact that this is serious for those who have it. A lot of the drugs for rheumatoid arthritis are the same drugs that cancer patients are given. It’s fortunate that we’ve had a lot of advancements in the treatment for autoimmune diseases such as lupus and osteoarthritis, a result of all the biologics that have come out. ...
Once the lining on the bone starts to go, it’s not coming back, but people can prevent further deterioration, with medical advancements from the last 10 to 20 years.
Q. | Are there some basic steps people can take to delay or help prevent the onset of arthritis?
A. | That’s a hard question to answer because with some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or psoriatic arthritis, it’s an autoimmune disease: If you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it.
With osteoarthritis, which most of us are going to get with age, and wear and tear ... where the cartilage wears away from joints, when it’s bone to bone ... proper diet is key, along with exercise, whether it’s high impact, low impact, aquatic or other forms. ...
We say, “motion is the lotion.” The more you can exercise, the more that your joints can get stronger, and they stay lubricated.