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Arthritis in America

Managing Symptoms with physical activity and education

Arthritis limits daily activities of 24 million adults in the United States, making it hard for them to hold a cup, lift a grocery bag, or walk to their car. And, the percentage of adults limited by arthritis continues to get worse and has increased by about 20 percent since 2002.

Overall, arthritis—a condition that can result in pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling of the joints—is at an all-time high. More than 54 million adults in the US have it. That’s about 1 in 4 US adults who have arthritis. Almost 60 percent, or about 32 million, of those with arthritis are of working age (ages 18-64).

Symptoms can be reduced with physical activity and educational programs. When people with arthritis engage in physical activity they can reduce their arthritis symptoms by up to 40 percent. Adults with arthritis also can reduce their symptoms by participating in disease management education programs.

CDC researchers analyzed findings from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey for the adults with arthritis and arthritis-related activity limitations data.

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Anne Schuchat, MD

“Arthritis symptoms keep millions of Americans from living life to the fullest. Doctors and loved ones can help people with arthritis by encouraging them to be as physically active as they can be.  Physical activity is a proven strategy to ease pain and reduce symptoms among people with arthritis.”

Anne Schuchat, MD – Principal Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kamil E. Barbour, PhD, MPH, MS

“It’s extremely important for primary care providers to encourage their patients with arthritis to be physically active. It is just as important for them to motivate their patients to attend workshops to learn how to better manage their arthritis.”

CDR (Sel.) Kamil E. Barbour, PhD, MPH, MS – Epidemiologist, CDC’s Arthritis Program