Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis, including self-management activities, can help people with arthritis decrease pain, improve function, stay productive, and lower health care costs. Key self-management activities include the following:
Develop Your Skills—Self-management education, such as the Arthritis Foundation Self Help Program (AFSHP), or the Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP) help you develop the skills and confidence to manage your arthritis on a day to day basis. For example, AFSHP has been shown to reduce pain even 4 years after participating in the program.
Be Active—Research has shown that physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 3 days a week. You can get activity in 10-minute intervals. Read about the physical activity programs the CDC recommends for people with arthritis.
Watch Your Weight—The prevalence of arthritis increases with increasing weight. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. A loss of just 11 pounds can decrease the occurrence (incidence) of knee osteoarthritis.
See Your Doctor—Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management is important, especially for inflammatory types of arthritis. For example, early use of disease-modifying drugs can affect the course of rheumatoid arthritis. If you have symptoms of arthritis, see your doctor and begin appropriate management of your condition.
Protect Your Joints—Joint injury can lead to osteoarthritis. People who experience sports or occupational injuries or have jobs with repetitive motions like repeated knee bending have more osteoarthritis. Avoid joint injury to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Quick Stats on Arthritis
- 42.7 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis (just over 1 in 5 adults).
- The percentage of adults with arthritis ranges from 18% in Hawaii to 37% in West Virginia. State median is 27% in 2003.
- Arthritis affects all race and ethnic groups: 34.3 million white adults, 4.4 million black adults, 2.6 million Hispanic adults, and 1.3 million adults of other races have arthritis.
- The risk of arthritis increases with age and is more common among women than men.
- Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Over 16 million adults say that arthritis limits their usual activities in some way.
- 8.2 million working aged U.S. adults (about 1 in 20) report work limitations due to arthritis or joint symptoms.
- Blacks with arthritis have more activity limitation than whites. Blacks and Hispanics with arthritis have more work limitation and severe joint pain from arthritis than whites.
- Arthritis costs exceeded $86 billion in 1997. ($51 billion in medical care expenditures and $35 billion in earnings losses). States ranged from $121 million in Wyoming to $8.4 billion in California.
- Effective strategies exist to reduce the impact of arthritis.