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Good news for people with arthritis in Comox Valley

Just in time for Arthritis Awareness Month, Comox Valley arthritis sufferers have more options to help manage the condition.

Comox Valley resident Haideh Jordan, who is a volunteer with the Arthritis Society of BC, understands how debilitating arthritis can be because she suffers from it herself. She recently trained to be a local presenter for the society so she can teach others about the condition and how they can deal with it.

"Arthritis is more an umbrella term for lots and lots of different conditions, some of them genetic, some of them because you overuse your body," said Jordan.

"It can be extremely debilitating, deforming, hugely painful, difficult to live with, and then you've got all the side effects that go with it which is, you know, either oversleeping or undersleeping, depression, being a little bit manic in your behaviour, and then all the emotional stuff that goes with it."

Jordan organized a six-week arthritis self-management program — which starts Sept. 5 at the Berwick House in Comox (1700 Comox Ave.) — on behalf of the Arthritis Society. This program teaches self-management techniques through lectures, brainstorming, discussions and problem solving each Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. until Oct. 10.

The program fee is $25 and attendees receive a copy of the Arthritis Helpbook. Call the Arthritis Society at 1-866-414-7766 to pre-register. Late registrations will still be accepted after the first class.

Meanwhile, two new rheumatologists in Nanaimo will ensure arthritis sufferers in the Comox Valley are better able to get the help they need, according to the Arthritis Society's Cari Taylor.

Taylor said she hopes the two new doctors, Dr. Alison Kydd and Dr. Nicole Baur, will be able to fill a gap in rheumatologists serving the North Island.

"We currently have one rheumatologist who is serving this part of Vancouver Island and that is not realistic, given the demand ... there is a year’s waiting list," she said in a news release. "This is a great thing for people living with arthritis ... no one should have trouble accessing health professionals."

Like the current rheumatologist, the two new doctors will be based in Nanaimo.

Seeing a rheumatologist is part of Jordan's arthritis management plan, and while she noted there are plenty of options to help, seeing a doctor is important.

"I've got arthritis in my hands and I have to be very careful to not overuse them and not to do certain movements that will aggravate the inflammatory joints. By the same token, you cannot not use them, you know, what you don't use you lose, so you need, oftentimes, a professional that will help you figure out how to, hold a knife for example, in such a way whereby you still use your joint but you use it gently," she explained.

But she also pointed out that people need to be their own advocates, and create a "health team" for themselves, which can be made up of all sorts of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists and massage therapists.

According to the Arthritis Society, there are over 100 different forms of arthritis, and it can affect babies and children as well as adults.

The society will host a free public forum at Beban Park Recreation Centre (2300 Bowen Rd.) in Nanaimo on Sept. 13 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Registration is required. Call 1-866-414-7766 or e-mail registration@bc.arthritis.ca.

For more information about arthritis, visit the Arthritis Society's website at www.arthritis.ca.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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