Learn About Arthritis

The word arthritis applies to more than 100 different conditions of unknown or varied causes.  Joint involvement is the most characteristic aspect of arthritis, but various forms can also result in such problems as kidney disease, blindness, and premature death.  Arthritis causes pain, loss of movement, and sometimes swelling of joints and tissues.  Common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (also known as Lupus or SLE), and scleroderma.

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Risk factors for arthritis are both modifiable and nonmodifiable.

Modifiable Risk:

  • Overweight/Obesity
  • Joint Injury
  • Infection
  • Occupation

Nonmodifiable Risk:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Genetics

Arthritis in the United States

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis and chronic joint symptoms affect 46 million Americans, making it one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States. As the population ages, it is estimated that the number will increase to 67 million by 2030. In 2003, the total health care cost resulting from arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the U.S. was $128 billion ($81 billion in direct costs and $47 billion in indirect costs).  With the increased prevalence projections for 2030, the cost resulting from arthritis will continue to increase as well.

Arthritis in Missouri

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States and is one of Missouri’s most prevalent chronic health problems, affecting 1.4 million Missourians with a projected increase of 1.72 million by 2030. In 2003, the total cost resulting from arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in Missouri was over $2.8 billion.

In an effort to address the impact of arthritis, CDC recommends the following:

  • Learning techniques to manage arthritis
  • Being physically active
  • Controlling weight
  • Consulting a physician

Regional Arthritis Centers

Missouri developed seven Regional Arthritis Centers (known as RACs) to focus efforts toward the CDC recommendations by offering physical activity and self-management programs for persons and families affected by arthritis and other chronic conditions. Only 13 percent of Missourians with arthritis have ever taken a class to manage their arthritis.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is ideal for people with ongoing health conditions like arthritis, heart disease, depression, and diabetes. The class meets for 2.5 hour sessions once a week for six weeks. You will learn skills to help you have increased energy & physical activity; decreased pain, fatigue, depression, & health distress; and fewer social limitations.

The Diabetes Self-Management Program is for people with Type 2 Diabetes. The class meets for 2.5 hour sessions once a week for six weeks. You will gain tools to manage diabetes including developing action plans and learning ways to balance and control blood sugar, read food labels, and how to communicate with Healthcare Providers.

The Walk With Ease program is offered in either a group setting with a trained instructor or in a self-led format (no instructor; don’t have to walk with others, though we recommend the buddy system!). Walk With Ease is a physical activity course designed to help you manage your arthritis by developing a walking plan that fits your specific needs. However, you do not have to have arthritis to benefit from the program. It is beneficial for anyone who wants to make walking a daily habit, especially if you have diabetes, heart disease, or other ongoing health conditions.

Contact your Regional Arthritis Center to locate a physical activity and self-management program near you.

Arthritis and Physical Activity

More than 50 percent of individuals with arthritis do not get the recommended levels of nonoccupational physical activity.  Increasing physical activity is essential in the management of arthritis since physical activity has many noteworthy benefits including:

  • Reduced pain
  • Improved physical function
  • Improved mental health
  • Improved quality of life

Physical Activity. The Arthritis Pain Reliever

If you experience the pain and stiffness of arthritis, there’s something you can do about it. Get more physical activity.

Recent studies show that moderate physical activity three or more days per week can help to relieve arthritis pain and stiffness and give you more energy. Regular physical activity can also lift your mood and make you feel more positive.

Find out more about what moderate physical activity is, what types are suitable for people with arthritis, and other helpful information by clicking on the resources below.

Arthritis and Other Chronic Conditions

With so many Missouri adults who report having another chronic condition, it is important to address the unique barriers that having arthritis presents to participating in physical activity, especially since physical activity is often recommended to individuals who have other chronic conditions as a strategy for management.

  • 61.3% of adults with diabetes also have arthritis
  • 66% of adults with cardiovascular disease also have arthritis
  • 52.2% of adults with hypertension also have arthritis
  • 49.8% of adults with high cholesterol also have arthritis

Arthritis and Weight

Reducing the prevalence of overweight/obesity among Missouri adults who are diagnosed with specific types of arthritis can help reduce the development of symptoms of those conditions.  For example, weight control can lower a person’s risk for developing osteoarthritis, and weight loss can reduce symptoms for people with knee osteoarthritis.