Arthritis Awareness Month: Expanding Interventions for Arthritis

CDC and partners encourage you to learn more about proven arthritis-appropriate interventions.

Arthritis is one of the most common health conditions in the United States, and a leading cause of disability. Almost 59 million adults (1 in 4), have arthritis that has been diagnosed by a doctor.

Nearly 26 million are unable to do everyday activities because of arthritis.

Physical activity can help relieve arthritis symptoms, like joint pain and stiffness, that limit activities. CDC works to improve the quality of life for adults who live with arthritis and other chronic conditions by promoting physical activity and self-management education interventions.

One in three adults with arthritis are not physically active (30%), have fair to poor health (33%), and have severe joint pain (33%), according to a recent CDC study. These rates were highest among people living in the Southeast, particularly Appalachia. Increasing awareness of and access to arthritis interventions can help improve the health and quality of life for adults living with arthritis and other chronic conditions.

What are the CDC-recognized arthritis interventions?

CDC funds state and national organizations that implement 18 evidence-based physical activity and self-management education programs that help adults manage arthritis symptoms. These programs can also help people manage other chronic diseases, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Some of these programs are designed for Spanish-speaking adults, like Camine Con Gusto, a walking program. For the full list and complete description of these programs, please visit the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance (OAAA) website. The table at the end of the Lifestyle Management Programs for Arthritis page summarizes important details of each intervention.

Group of people in swimming pool, doing water aerobics exercise class with foam weights. Focus on women in the foreground.

The Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program is a community-based, group program that uses a variety of water-based exercises to increase physical activity among adults with arthritis.

Arthritis affects working-age adults, older adults, and even children. The number of adults who live in rural or urban areas and are affected by arthritis is the topic of a published CDC analysis. Researchers found that more adults in rural areas are affected by arthritis with nearly 1 in 3 affected, than in urban areas. Adults living in the most rural areas were more limited by their arthritis, too. Over half reported being limited by arthritis. Arthritis limitations can include difficulties with moving and performing daily tasks, as well as social and work limitations.

Remote and Virtual Options for Arthritis Interventions

Funded organizations that develop and deliver in-person programs developed remote versions of the programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that now give older adults, caregivers for older adults, and adults of any age with arthritis more access. Examples of remote-delivery methods and related supports for interventions include:

  • Video conferences with trainers and participants.
  • Online program availability and virtual support.
  • Phone conferences and email support.
  • Mailings of manuals and other resources.

Several CDC-recognized, group programs developed for in-person delivery are currently being evaluated for remote delivery. Four programs are available that have already been proven effective for remote delivery:

  • Walk with Ease – Self-Directed.
  • Tool Kit for Active Living with Chronic Conditions.
  • Better Choices, Better Health.
  • Better Choices, Better Health for Arthritis or Healthy Living with Arthritis.

Effects of CDC-Recognized Programs for Arthritis and Chronic Disease

CDC continues to work with state and national organizations to make physical activity and self-management education interventions available to adults in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa.

CDC currently funds 13 state organizations to help improve the quality of life of adults living with arthritis. These awardees work to increase access to CDC-recognized arthritis-appropriate interventions. States also use CDC funding to:

  • Increase health care providers’ patient counseling about the benefits of physical activity for reducing arthritis pain and limitations.
A group of people are stretching in wheelchairs inside a fitness center. They are concentrating on stretching and looking focused.

CDC-funded state partners use funding to increase provider referrals of patients with arthritis to evidence-based interventions.

  • Increase provider referrals of patients with arthritis to evidence-based interventions.
  • Promote walking to increase physical activity and manage arthritis symptoms.
  • Raise awareness of the burden of arthritis and ways to manage it.

Through CDC’s funded partnerships with states and national organizations, like the National Recreation and Parks Association and Y-USA, CDC has reached more than 200,000 adults with programs proven to reduce pain and improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis.

The CDC Arthritis Program’s Reach webpage has information on the effects of these physical activity and self-management education programs, including successes in implementing programs and state “snapshots” of notable achievements.