Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (Banner Imagery) - Go to home page

Arthritis Program

The Kentucky Arthritis Program (KAP) is a component of the Chronic Disease and Prevention Branch under the Department for Public Health for statewide arthritis initiatives. The purpose of the KAP mirrors the CDC mission for arthritis as it relates to chronic disease.

Arthritis is a serious medical concern in Kentucky. More than 1.2 million Kentuckians have doctor-diagnosed arthritis or chronic joint symptoms (possible arthritis). Many of these people cannot access the necessary care of an arthritis specialists like rheumatologists because of various barriers to care.

Kentucky’s Arthritis Program was developed to better determine the extent of the disease in Kentucky, educate the public and health professionals about the burden of arthritis in the commonwealth and help manage the condition through early diagnosis, medical management and self-care.

Since the early 1970s, medical research has emphasized that people with chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease need to become empowered partners with their physicians in managing their own medical conditions. Leaders in the field of chronic disease management have developed seminars and courses that assist people in taking a more active role in self-care. Arthritis is the first medical condition where a self-management course was implemented.
In addition to ongoing strategies to educate the general public about arthritis, the program promotes evidence-based arthritis self-management courses and arthritis friendly exercise programs across the state through local health departments, Department of Aging and Independent Living and statewide partnerships. Heightening awareness of the medical community and the community-at-large about the availability and importance of self-management interventions for people with arthritis is essential to the growth and viability of this program. 

Learn more about the Centers for Disease Control Arthritis Program by visiting the  CDC Arthritis home page.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis generally refers to joint inflammation, but also describes more than 100 diseases and conditions affecting joints and surrounding tissues. These diseases also may be referred to as rheumatic conditions. Some common forms of arthritis include: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, gout, bursitis, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Rheumatic conditions are characterized by inflammation or degeneration of the connective tissue structures of the body, especially the joints and related structures including muscles, bursae, tendons and fibrous tissue. People with arthritis experience pain, stiffness and limitation of motion in the affected joints.

Most forms of arthritis are chronic, meaning they are long lasting and have no cure. However, early diagnosis and proper treatment programs can maximize the quality of life for most persons with arthritis.

Walk With Ease Program

The Kentucky Department for Public Health and the Kentucky Department (KDPH) for Aging and Independent Living are working together to offer a new program called Walk With Ease (WWE).

The Walk With Ease program was developed by the Arthritis Foundation and is proven to reduce pain, increase balance, strength and walking pace. While the Walk With Ease program was developed to help people with arthritis pain, all individuals who are looking for a way to improve their health by being more physically active can benefit from this free program and are encouraged to participate.

The six-week walking program is designed to help participants develop successful walking routines and stay motivated to continue walking. The program can be done individually, in informal groups of friends or in more formal group led sessions. Individuals or informal groups may sign up for this free program by registering. Participants will receive the WWE workbook (free of charge) which includes educational materials and worksheets. You will also receive emails of encouragement along the way. 

The Walk With Ease guidebook includes:

  • The basics about arthritis and the relationship between arthritis, exercise and pain
  • How to exercise safely and comfortably
  • Making a doable personal walking plan
  • Setting realistic goals for improving fitness

Walk With Ease can also be offered as a group led program and KDPH now is recruiting people who would like to become group leaders. Leader training is offered online and leaders also must be CPR certified. Please contact Teri Wood for more information about becoming a WWE group leader.

Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP)

AFEP created by the Arthritis Foundation is an exercise program that provides a wide variety of activities including: 

  • Range-of-motion and endurance-building activities Relaxation techniques
  • Health education topics

This program can help to improve functional ability, decrease depression, and increase confidence in one's ability to exercise. Classes typically meet two or three times per week.

Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP)

The Chronic Disease Self Management Program empowers people with chronic disease to take an active role in managing their chronic conditions. It is a workshop given two and a half hours, once a week, for six weeks that focuses on the below 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;
  6. How to evaluate new treatments.


Last Updated 8/2/2017