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101 Interesting Facts about Arthritis
1 in 5 adults
living in the United States reports having doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
Nearly 1 in 3
adults living in the United States has either doctor-diagnosed arthritis or
chronic joint symptoms that have not been diagnosed by a doctor. This
number is up from 1 in 6 adults in 1998, and the number continues to
increase as the population increases.
second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability.
physician visits and more than 500,000 hospitalizations are attributable to
Half of those
Americans afflicted with arthritis do not think anything can be done to help
literally means inflammation of the joints. However, some forms of
arthritis inflame more than just joints and some cause very little
to a large group of diseases that affect areas in and around joints.
Arthritis is the
one of the most prevalent chronic (persistent and long-lasting) health
The prevalence of
arthritis increases with age.
There are over
100 different types of arthritis, each differing widely in progression,
cause, symptoms and method of treatment. The most common type of arthritis
is osteoarthritis, affecting an estimated 21 million people.
The cause of most
types of arthritis is unknown.
Arthritis is the
leading cause of disability among Americans over age 15.
Arthritis is one
of the oldest diseases known to man and has been discovered in the remains
of people who lived over 500,000 years ago.
More women than
men are afflicted with arthritis.
All age groups
are affected by arthritis, including about 300,000 children.
diagnosed by the patient’s medical history, a physical examination, blood
and laboratory tests and/or X-rays.
The most common
form of arthritis in children is
juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions
and occurs nearly as often as insulin-dependent juvenile diabetes.
rheumatoid arthritis has two peaks of onset: between 1 and 3 years and
between 8 and 12 years.
Girls are twice
as likely to develop juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as boys.
The prognosis for
those with juvenile arthritis is good. 75% of children with juvenile
arthritis recover without significant joint damage.
adults between the ages of 18 and 44 have arthritis.
the U.S. economy $86.2 billion per year.
When both direct
and indirect costs (such as lost wages) are combined, arthritis costs the
U.S. economy more than $124 billion per year.
More than half of
those affected with arthritis are under age 65.
Almost half of
those afflicted with arthritis have one of the two most common types of
arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
the most common form of arthritis, occurs when cartilage, a type of dense
connective tissue that protects bones at joints, deteriorates and causes
bone to rub against bone.
Osteoarthritis is often called a “wear and tear” disorder.
Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, there are treatment forms that
includes drugs and tailored programs of exercise. There are also
numerous studies on the way to determine the of natural substances, such as Glucosamaine
and Chondroitin, for the rebuilding of cartilage tissue.
are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than joints that have not been
Women of average
height who are overweight and lose 10 pounds or more over 10 years can cut
their risk of developing osteoarthritis by half.
with knee injuries have 6 times the risk of developing osteoarthritis by age
65 than those without knee injuries.
with hip injuries have 3 times the risk of developing osteoarthritis by age
65 than those without hip injuries.
Even though one
may have joint damage extensive enough to show up on X-ray, one still may
not have symptoms.
By age 65, more
than half of the population has X-ray evidence of joint damage and
osteoarthritis in at least one joint.
arthritis, the second most common form of arthritis, occurs when the body’s
immune system reacts against its own joint linings, causing painful
An estimated 0.3
to 1.5 percent of the U.S. population has rheumatoid arthritis.
with rheumatoid arthritis are between the ages of 20 and 40.
rheumatoid arthritis includes rest, drugs, exercise and joint replacement or
surgical joint repair.
In very severe
cases, rheumatoid arthritis can be treated by injections of a gold compound.
After 10 to 12
years with rheumatoid arthritis, less than 20% of patients are free of
disability or deformity.
Fewer than five
percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis are wheelchair bound or unable
to take care of themselves.
Ten percent of
those with rheumatoid arthritis go into complete remission within the first
arthritis is unlikely to be fatal, studies have shown that those with
rheumatoid arthritis tend to die earlier, mostly due to increased
susceptibility to infection.
Gout is another
common form of arthritis, where repeated flare-ups of painful swelling
occur. The bunion joint, which connects the big toe to the foot, is usually
affected first. Various drugs are used to treat gout.
arthritis, another fairly common form of arthritis, is caused when a joint
is infected by bacteria. Early treatment with antibiotic drugs prevents
spondylitis is a type of arthritis in which spinal joints become inflamed
causing the patient to develop a hunched back. This disease attacks mostly
young men and can be treated with drugs and physical therapy.
Lupus, a form of
arthritis that causes chronic inflammation of lungs and tissues, occurs
mostly in women of childbearing age.
a disease in which muscles and attachment to bones are affected, causing
severe pain. This disease affects mainly women.
sometimes mistaken for Lyme disease.
People who are
overweight or obese report more doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
People who are
more than ten pounds overweight have an elevated risk of developing
arthritis, especially in weight-bearing joints such as the knees.
aggravates the course of osteoarthritis, especially knee osteoarthritis.
Many people with
doctor-diagnosed arthritis report limitations in important activities such
as walking, bending and climbing stairs.
In 1998, the
number of deaths due to arthritis and other related rheumatoid conditions
was 9, 367.
of arthritis alone account for 80% of all deaths due to arthritis.
arthritis, the most common chronic inflammatory arthritis, accounts for 22%
of all deaths due to arthritis.
arthritis is often called the “great crippler.”
arthritis is also among the most serious and disabling types of arthritis
because it strikes multiple joints, follows an unpredictable course and has
no known cure.
arthritis afflicts three times as many women as men.
One of the most
common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is fatigue.
arthritis affects mainly women in their forties, although anyone can be
arthritis affects the same joints on both sides of the body.
It is estimated
that approximately 10 to 20% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis are
expected to have a complete remission early in their disease or to follow a
mild intermittent course which will require little medical attention.
percent of adults over the age of 65 report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
arthritis is persistent and lasting. Many are limited and of brief
conditions have a known cause or causes and can be cured if treated
properly. Others have poorly understood causes and follow an unpredictable
Most of the
chronic forms of arthritis are likely to result form a complex interaction
between genes and environment.
suggests that microbial agents trigger certain types of arthritis in
genetically predisposed people.
with arthritis are successfully treated. Indeed, proper treatment can allow
the majority of patients to function with little or no pain.
11.3 percent of
Americans report having symptoms of arthritis but have never seen a doctor
can often mean less pain and less joint damage.
More than 1 in 3
adults with arthritis reported activity limitations and more than 1 in 4
adults reported severe joint pain.
population has a similar prevalence of arthritis to that of whites, but the
black population reports higher instances of activity limitations and severe
joint pain than do whites.
population has a lower prevalence of arthritis than whites, but the Hispanic
population also reports higher instances of activity limitations and severe
joint pain than do whites.
30.6 percent of
the working aged population with arthritis attributed work limitations to
shown several connections between food, natural supplements and certain
forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
can be caused by factors such as inflammation, damage to joint tissues,
fatigue, depression or stress.
other related conditions rank second to diseases of the circulatory system
in total economic costs to society and first among all disease groups in
cost through lost income.
One of the
principal features of most types of arthritis is their distinctive flares
and periods of lesser disease activity.
of people suffering from arthritis will turn to folk medicine and the use of
quack remedies at some point.
Some of these
remedies include wearing a copper bracelet and the use of the venom of
vipers, bees and ants.
Anti-inflammatory medications alone can cost as much as $50 per month for
Many forms of
arthritis are systemic, i.e., they are not limited to the joints. In such
diseases, practically any organ of the body may be affected, including the
heart, lungs, kidneys and skin.
Fewer than 50%
of people with rheumatoid arthritis who were working at the onset of the
disease are still working 10 years later.
No single type
of arthritis is better or worse than another type.
There is no best
form of treatment for everyone who has a particular type of arthritis as
each individual may respond differently to different kinds of treatments.
of arthritis vary from day to day, it is common to think that what one ate
or did yesterday caused or reduced the symptoms one feels today.
About 60.7% of
those diagnosed with arthritis are women (25.9 million), while 39.3% are men
Almost half of
people in their 60s and 70s have arthritis that affects their foot or ankle.
anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are commonly used to
acupuncture and Swedish massages are some of the alternative treatments
sought out by those with arthritis.
patients spend billions of dollars a year on untested cures.
There is no
evidence that climate itself can either cure or cause arthritis.
The three groups
of patients most attracted to unproven remedies are those with AIDS, cancer
and advanced arthritis.
Only a small
percentage of genetically susceptible people will actually develop
is an essential tool in managing arthritis.
There is not yet
any scientific proof that certain foods can prevent or cause arthritis.
More than 90
percent of arthritis patients are seen for a handful of arthritic
There are about
fifteen different types of juvenile arthritis.
affects animals, too. One in every five adult dogs in the United
States has arthritis.
Vinitha A Jacob, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Ana Bracilovic, M.D., New York-Presbyterian Hospital, The
University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, New York City, NY
The World Book Encyclopedia. London: World Book, Inc., 1992.
Brewer, Earl and
Kathy Cochran Angel. The Arthritis Sourcebook. Chicago: RGA
Publishing Group, Inc., 1993.
Disease Control Statistics on Arthritis www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis_related_statistics.htm
Disease Control Report on the Impact of Arthritis www.arthritis.org/resources/arthritisanswers/cdc_report.asp
Felix. Treating Arthritis: Medicine, Myth and Magic. New York: Plenum
and Dennis Gillings, eds. Arthritis and Society. London: Butterworths
& Co. Ltd., 1985.
Arthritis: Questions you have…answers you need. Allentown, Pennsylvania:
People’s Medical Society, 1997.
and Marie Huag, eds. Arthritis and the Elderly. New York: Springer
Publishing Company, 1986.
S. and Susan Flamholtz Trien. The Duke University Medical Center Book of
Arthritis. New York: Engel & Engel, Inc., 1991.