Facts About Arthritis: CDC-OC
Article title: Facts About Arthritis: CDC-OC
Conditions: Arthritis, osteoarthritis
May 9, 1997
- Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are chronic and disabling,
and affect an estimated 40 million Americans. Nearly 50% of persons 65
years of age have arthritis; younger people have a lower risk of having
arthritis but still comprise half of all people affected.
- Arthritis limits the activity of over 7 million people and is second
only to heart disease as a cause of work disability. Recent estimates
place the direct medical cost of arthritis at $15.2 billion per year,
with total costs of medical care and lost wages exceeding $64 billion.
- Despite recent scientific evidence that regular physical activity
has significant physical and mental health benefits (such as outlined in
the 1996 Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and
Health), millions of Americans remain physically inactive.
- Findings of CDC research using the National Health Interviews Survey
of about 120,000 Americans, indicate that persons with arthritis and
other rheumatic conditions are significantly less active than the
populations as a whole. The rates of physical activity among people with
arthritis may be lower because of the mistaken recommendations in the
past that they should not exercise because it would damage their joints.
- The research indicated that persons with arthritis and other
rheumatic conditions were significantly more likely to report no leisure
time physical activity at all, and had significantly lower rates of
vigorous physical activity.
- The Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and
Health found for persons with osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint
disease) that "regular physical activity is necessary for maintaining
normal muscle strength, joint structure, and joint function...and was
not associated with joint damage or development of osteoarthritis and
may beneficial for many people with arthritis." Other studies have found
that persons with arthritis have experienced improvement in muscle
function and other important health benefits from exercise training.
This was true even for older adults with arthritis.
- People with arthritis should see their doctor or physical or
occupational therapist prior to increasing their level of physical
activity. Both patients and health care providers can get advice and
help from the Arthritis Foundation by calling toll-free at
18002837800, or by accessing their Internet site at http://www.arthritis.org/
This page last reviewed
Disease Control and Prevention
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