Arthritis is the Most Common Cause of Disability in the U.S.

Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the U.S. There are over 50 million adults and almost 300,000 children under the age of 18 that have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. One-third of adults with this chronic condition is limited in the work they can do which results in up to $156 billion in lost wages and medical expenses annually.

Types of Arthritis

There are over 100 types of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, childhood arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. In general, arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints and connective tissue, the immune system, and in some cases, internal organs. Almost half of the people who have been diagnosed with arthritis also have one or more chronic health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure.

What Causes Arthritis?

In most cases, arthritis causes are unknown, but genetics, lifestyle, and environment may play a role. The chance of developing arthritis increases with age, and women are more likely to develop the condition than men with the exception of gout, which is more common in men. Other causes of arthritis include:

  • Obesity
  • Joint Injuries
  • Infections That Affect the Joints
  • Certain Occupations That Involve Repetitive Motions

Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis symptoms can vary depending on the type of arthritis, but typical symptoms are a pain, swelling, and stiffness in one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly, but because arthritis is a chronic disease, the symptoms may come and go and last for differing amounts of time. It is important for a person to be specific about their symptoms when they talk to their doctor so that they can properly diagnose the type of arthritis.

Arthritis Treatment

There are a variety of treatments for arthritis that can help improve mobility and quality of life while minimizing pain and joint damage. Some treatments include medication, weight loss, physical therapy, and as a last resort, surgery. There are also self-management programs where trained instructors hold workshops teaching people how to deal with arthritis pain, how to properly use medication, and how to properly exercise. Participants are also taught how to effectively communicate their symptoms to family, friends, and co-workers.