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Arthritis Facts

Arthritis Facts

Facts About Arthritis in United States

Over 50 million Americans have arthritis, making it the number one cause of disability in the country. That means 1 in every 5 adults, 300,000 children and countless families. These numbers are only going to keep growing—unless we take a stand. The first steps in conquering arthritis are learning the facts, understanding your condition and knowing that help is by your side.

The term arthritis is used to refer to more than 100 related conditions. Arthritis can strike anyone at anytime, regardless of age, physical condition or ethnic background, often with devastating and debilitating effects. Arthritis brings with it a burden of pain and disability that those living with this disease must face every day. The main symptoms of arthritis are chronic joint pain, stiffness and swelling, which can result in significant disability and poor quality of life.

Some important facts to know:

  • Arthritis is the United States’ number one cause of disability. Working aged men and women with arthritis are less likely to be employed than those of the same age who don’t have arthritis
  • More than 50,000,000 adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. That’s 1 in 5 adults
  • Arthritis and related problems account for account for nearly 1 million hospitalizations and $156 billion yearly in medical expenses and lost wages
  • Of adults with arthritis, nearly 47% of them have at least one other condition. 57% of adults with heart disease have arthritis, and 52% of adults with diabetes have arthritis

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis, affecting an estimated 21 million adults in this country. Commonly referred to as“wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis involves destruction of the cartilage, the cushion or shock absorber on the ends of the bones.

How common is Arthritis?

Arthritis can affect people of all ages, including children. In Illinois in 1990, about 16 percent of the state’s population - nearly 2 million people - suffered from arthritis or other rheumatic conditions. In 2000, it was estimated that about 26 percent of the adults in Illinois (approximately 2.4 million people) suffered from arthritis. As the state’s population continues to age, the number of people affected by arthritis is expected to continue to increase.

What are the symptoms of Arthritis?

Symptoms of arthritis can include pain, swelling and stiffness in joints or the inability to move a joint normally. In some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, joints can become red, warm, swollen and painful, and the person may feel “sick all over.” Other symptoms are unexplained fever, fatigue, weight loss and swollen lymph glands. Symptoms typically last more than two weeks.

Who is at risk from Arthritis?

  • Men and women 45 years of age and older
  • Females 15 years of age and older
  • Someone with a family history of arthritis
  • Being African-American

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are very important in managing arthritis. Physicians now believe that damage to bones begins within the first two years that a person has the disease. Early diagnosis can decrease symptoms and long-term complications. A person should see a health care professional if symptoms of pain or swelling in multiple joints on both sides of the body develop.