Joint Pain and Arthritis

Chronic pain caused by arthritis affects millions of people in the United States every year. About one in four adults with arthritis—15 million people—report experiencing severe joint pain related to arthritis.Additionally, nearly half of adults with arthritis have persistent pain.2

Children with arthritis have pain as well, but there is less population-based information about them.

Learn about arthritis-related severe joint pain in the United States, and recommended pain management strategies that can help people with arthritis control their pain.

Defining Pain

Severe joint pain: When an individual rates his or her pain as 7 or higher out of 10 on a scale of 0 (no pain) to 10 (as bad as it can be).

Persistent pain: When an individual reports having pain (of any severity) on most or all days in the past 3 months.

CDC’s Efforts to Reduce Arthritis Pain

CDC supports programs for people with arthritis so they can work and do other daily activities, have less pain, manage their own care, and prevent or delay disability.

CDC research related to pain includes:

  • Studies examining how adults with arthritis prefer to manage their pain.
  • Analyses of the effectiveness of community-based programs in reducing pain and improving quality of life.

The combined efforts and partnerships of CDC’s funded programs have made proven arthritis-appropriate self-management education workshops and physical activity intervention programs available to more than 200,000 adults in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and one territory—American Samoa. Learn more about the reach of CDC-funded Programs.

  1. Barbour KE, Boring M, Helmick CG, Murphy LB, Qin J. Prevalence of severe joint pain among adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis—United States, 2002–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;65(39):1052–1056.
  2. Kennedy J, Roll JM, Schraudner T, Murphy S, McPherson S. Prevalence of persistent pain in the US adult population: new data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey. J Pain. 2014;15(10):979–984.
  3. Guy GP, Zhang K, Bohm MK, et al. Vital signs: changes in opioid prescribing in the United States, 2006-2015. MMWR Morbid Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66(26):697–704.
  4. Krebs EE, Gravely A, Nugent S, et al. Effect of opioid vs nonopioid medications on pain-related function in patients with chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain: the SPACE randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2018;319(9):872–882.
  5. Babatunde OO, Jordan JL, Van der Windt DA, Hill JC, Foster NE, Protheroe J. Effective treatment options for musculoskeletal pain in primary care: a systematic overview of current evidence. PLoS ONE. 12(6): e0178621.
  6. Penedo FJ, Dahn JR. Exercise and well-being: a review of mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2005;18(2):189–193.
  7. US Department of Health and Human Services; Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee (2008) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Website. https://health.gov/PAguidelines/external icon. Accessed September 13, 2018.
  8. Kelley GA, Kelley KS, Hootman JM, Jones DL. Effects of community-deliverable exercise on pain and physical function in adults with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases: a meta-analysis. Arthritis Care Res. 2011;63(1):79–93.
  9. Brady TJ, Murphy L, O’Colmain BJ, et al. A meta-analysis of health status, health behaviors, and health care utilization outcomes of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. Prev Chron Dis. 2013;10:E07.