Arthritis Disability Up 20% Since 2002, Says CDC Report

HealthDay News — One in four adults in the U.S. report an arthritis diagnosis, with the number of individuals disabled by it up 20% since 2002, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Twenty-four million adults are limited in their everyday activities due to the condition. Almost 2 of 5 adults with arthritis are of working age — 18 to 64 years old, the CDC said. 

Arthritis costs at least $81 billion in direct medical expenses annually. The report also noted that arthritis frequently occurs with other health conditions, namely heart disease, diabetes, or obesity.

“Doctors and loved ones can help people with arthritis by encouraging them to be as physically active as they can be,” CDC acting director Anne Schuchat, MD, said in an agency news release. “Physical activity is a proven strategy to ease pain and reduce symptoms among people with arthritis.” Exercise — such as walking, swimming, or biking — can reduce symptoms by as much as 40%, according to the report.

“It’s extremely important for primary care providers to encourage their patients with arthritis to be physically active,” epidemiologist Kamil Barbour, PhD, of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in the news release. “It is just as important for them to motivate their patients to attend workshops to learn how to better manage their arthritis.” People are more likely to attend an education program if a health care provider recommends it. But to date, only one in 10 Americans has participated in this type of program, the CDC reported.

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Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Boring M, Brady TJ. Vital signs: prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation — United States, 2013–2015. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66:246–253. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6609e1