Arthritis and You

Arthritis is one of the most common medical problems and a major cause of disability in America. The word arthritis is a blend of the Greek words arthron, for joint, and it is, for inflammation. In other words, arthritis literally means, “joint inflammation.” Although arthritis is often referred to as one disease, it’s not. Arthritis has more than 100 forms.

Arthritis in America

  • 66 million people have arthritis (nearly 1 in 3 adults)
  • One of the most prevalent chronic health problems and the nation’s leading cause of disability among Americans over age 15.
  • Second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability.
  • Limits everyday activities such as walking, dressing and bathing for more than 7 million Americans.
  • Results in 39 million physician visits and more than a half million hospitalizations.
  • Costs to the U.S. economy total more than $86.2 billion annually.
  • Affects people in all age groups including nearly 300,000 children.
  • Baby boomers are now at prime risk. More than half those affected are under age 65.
  • Half of those Americans with arthritis don’t think anything can be done to help them.
  • Refers to more than 100 different diseases that affect areas in or around joints.
  • Strikes women more often than men.

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions causing joint pain and disability. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans have arthritis or a related condition. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease. It’s often called wear-and-tear arthritis because it involves the wearing away of the cartilage that caps the bones in your joints. Over time, if the cartilage wears down completely, you lose shock absorption capabilities and may be left with bone rubbing on bone. This may eventually damage the ends of your bones. Osteoarthritis can affect almost any joint in your body.

Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t associated with the overuse or injury of a joint. In rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial membrane that protects and lubricates joints becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis can be more disabling than osteoarthritis, and it sometimes results in deformed joints. It can affect any joint, but wrists, knuckles and small joints of the feet are among the most common sites.

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