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Arthritis and rheumatic diseases in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Rheumatic diseases affect a person’s joints and muscles and include both degenerative conditions, as well as autoimmune diseases. Some of the most commonly known rheumatic diseases include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and Sjogren’s syndrome. However, there are over 100 diseases and conditions that fall under the category of rheumatism. Despite the breadth of such conditions, the term arthritis is commonly used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints. When a person has arthritis, it generally refers to a more specific rheumatic disease. A recent survey of U.S. adults found that around 48 percent were somewhat or very concerned that they may develop arthritis at some point in their lifetime.

The prevalence of athritis

It is estimated that almost 59 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis. Arthritis is more common among women than men and much more prevelent among older adults. While only seven percent of those aged 18 to 44 years have been diagnosed with arthritis around half of those aged 65 years and older have been diagnosed with the condition. The states with the highest share of adults living with arthritis are West Virginia, Alabama, and Kentucky, while California and Hawaii have the lowest rates in the United States.

Activity limitation due to arthritis

The pain and discomfort of arthritis and diseases that affect the joints can be constant and severe, and can therefore deeply affect the lives of those who suffer. It is estimated that almost 26 million people in the United States with arthritis suffer from arthritis-attributable activity limitation. Although arthritis disproportionately affects the elderly, younger adults with arthritis also often report suffering from activity limitation due to their arthritis. Furthermore, those with arthritis who are also obese are more likely to report arthritis-attributable activity limitation than those who are overweight or under/healthy weight. Although there is no cure for arthritis, treatments can relieve pain and help slow the progression of the disorder. Common arthritis treatments include physical therapy and exercise, medications, and surgery.

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