Arthritis Help for Veterans

Two veterans, smiling

Veterans can learn non-drug ways to ease arthritis pain and improve their quality of life with physical activity programs and self-management education workshops.

Over one in three veterans (35%) have arthritis, making it a common condition among those who served in the U.S. military.  It is more common among veterans than non-veterans overall, and a leading cause of work and physical disability. Though arthritis affects veterans more, approximately one in four (23.7%) of all US adults has arthritis.

For veterans, arthritis is more widespread in older adults, in men, and those who are significantly overweight.

Traumatic and overuse injuries, which commonly occur during active duty, are reasons why veterans may develop arthritis later in life. Fortunately, there are low- or no-cost physical activity programs and community-based educational workshops that can help veterans feel better.

Veterans marching in parade

Combat veterans walk in a parade.

Reducing Pain of Arthritis

Low-impact physical activities—like walking, biking, swimming, and water aerobics—are all good non-drug ways to ease arthritis pain and safe for most adults. These forms of exercise can also improve joint function and improve mood.

In addition, veterans, who keep their weight at a healthy level, can reduce the pain of arthritis as well and help keep it from getting worse.

Community Programs

There are community programs to help veterans and other adults with arthritis be healthier and live with less pain.

Veterans can:

  • Learn about physical activity classes, available at local YMCAs, parks, and recreation or community centers, that can teach veterans how to feel their best. These classes have been shown to reduce pain and disability related to arthritis, and improve movement and mood.
  • Join self-management education workshops designed to teach people with arthritis and other chronic conditions how to control their symptoms and to develop more confidence in managing health problems affecting their lives. Classes are led by people who have experience living with arthritis or other chronic conditions.