General Program Overview

The word arthritis means joint inflammation. Arthritis is an umbrella term used to refer to more than 100 medical conditions affecting the joints, surrounding tissues, and other connective tissues. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.

Improving the quality of life of Kansans with arthritis through the promotion of physical activity and evidence-based self-management programs is the overall goal of the Kansas Arthritis Program (KAP). Self-management programs provide individuals with the skills necessary to reduce the pain, stress, fatigue and decreased muscle strength often associated with arthritis. Evidence-based programs have been studied for the positive results individuals with arthritis have experienced from participation in the programs. The evidence-based self-management programs currently promoted by KAP are:

In order to meet the needs of Kansas adults with arthritis it is necessary to understand the impact of arthritis in the state. KAP conducts surveillance activities in the odd numbered years through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (a telephone survey). The purpose of the surveillance survey is to discover approximately who and how people are affected and where they are located. For the purpose of estimating the number of people affected by arthritis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a doctor’s diagnosis of arthritis as reported by the individual.

KAP is a partnership of the Arthritis Foundation chapters of Kansas and Western Missouri/Greater Kansas City, ACT (Arthritis Community Taskforce) and the KDHE Bureau of Health Promotion. Program staff does not give medical advice or provide information about specific medications.

Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program: This warm water exercise program was developed to help keep joints flexible, increase or maintain muscle strength and to help reduce the pain associated with arthritis. The program is lead by certified Arthritis Foundation instructors and participants do not need to know how to swim to participate. Even though this program was developed for individuals with arthritis, it is appropriate for individuals with any type of chronic condition that are in need of a gentle, fun and safe exercise program.

Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program : This program was developed to help individuals with arthritis keep their muscles strong, maintain or improve flexibility and improve balance and coordination, manage stress and reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis. The exercise program is lead by Arthritis Foundation certified instructors and can be done either standing or sitting. The range of motion exercises are appropriate for individuals of all levels and chronic conditions are that are looking for a fun and safe exercise program.

Arthritis Foundation Self-Help Program: This program meets once a week for two hours for six weeks and teaches individuals how to take control of their arthritis. The program provides participants with the skills and confidence necessary to manage their arthritis through a variety of interactive small group techniques. The program is facilitated by Arthritis Foundation certified leaders. Participants receive the “Arthritis Helpbook”, a valuable resource for individuals with arthritis. Individuals with arthritis are encouraged to bring their significant others so they can benefit from the information as well.

Chronic Disease Self-Management Program: This workshop is given two and a half hours, once a week for six weeks in a variety of community settings for individuals with a variety of chronic conditions (arthritis, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma and lung disease). The workshop is facilitated by trained leaders that facilitate interactive discussions on the following topics: 1) techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation, 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance 3) appropriate use of medications, 4) communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals, 5) nutrition, and 6) making informed treatment decisions.

EnhanceFitness (STEPS): This is a group exercise program designed specifically for older adults that incorporates personal training principles, taught by nationally certified fitness instructors. It is a multi-component class including strength, cardiovascular endurance, posture and flexibility and balance exercises that are based on solid scientific research. The one hour classes are held three times a week.

The above mentioned programs have all been studied and found to have the following positive results for participants:

Exercise Programs:

  • Decreased pain
  • Increased energy
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion

Self-Help and Self-Management Programs:

  • Decreased physician visits
  • Increased communication with physicians
  • Increased exercise
  • Reduced health care costs