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May Is National Arthritis Awareness Month

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis by the Numbers:

  • Nearly 53 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis; that number is expected to grow to 67 million by 2030.

  • Almost 300,000 babies, kids and teens have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.

  • Arthritis is the nation’s No. 1 cause of disability.

  • Working-age men and women (ages 18 to 64) with arthritis are less likely to be employed than those of the same age without arthritis.

  • 1/3 of working-age people with arthritis have limitations in their ability to work, the type of work they can do or whether they can work part time or full time.

  • People with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis –two major kinds of arthritis – miss a combined 172 million workdays every year.

  • Arthritis and related conditions account for more than $156 billion annually in lost wages and medical expenses.

  • There are nearly 1 million hospitalizations each year due to arthritis.

  • 57% of adults with heart disease have arthritis.

  • 52% of adults with diabetes have arthritis.

  • 44% of adults with high blood pressure have arthritis.

  • 36% of adults who are obese have arthritis.

  • 1/3 of adults with arthritis age 45 and older have either anxiety or depression

Arthritis symptoms

Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.

Common types of arthritis:


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of autoimmune disease in which your body attacks healthy joint tissue. About 1.5 million adults in the United States have RA, estimates the Arthritis Foundation. Nearly three times as many women have RA compared to men.

Juvenile arthritis

Juvenile arthritis (JA) affects children under 16 years old. JA is an umbrella term for several types of arthritis that affect children. The most common type is juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a group of autoimmune disorders that can impact children’s joints. It can cause muscle and soft tissue to tighten, bones to erode, changes in growth patterns, and joint misalignment.

Inflammatory Arthritis

A healthy immune system is protective. It generates internal inflammation to get rid of infection and prevent disease. But the immune system can go awry, mistakenly attacking the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, potentially causing joint erosion and may damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis.

Infectious Arthritis

A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation.

Metabolic Arthritis

Uric acid is formed as the body breaks down purines, a substance found in human cells and in many foods. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than is needed or the body can’t get rid of the uric acid quickly enough. In some people the uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Gout can come and go in episodes or, if uric acid levels aren’t reduced, it can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and disability.

Diagnosing Arthritis

Arthritis diagnosis often begins with a primary care physician, who performs a physical exam and may do blood tests and imaging scans to help determine the type of arthritis.

What Can Be Done About Arthritis?

There are many things that can be done to preserve joint function, mobility and quality of life. Learning about the disease and treatment options, making time for physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight are essential. Arthritis is a commonly misunderstood disease. The Arthritis Foundation is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to serving all people with arthritis.

To Learn More about arthritis and practical tips for daily living visit:

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