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Arthritis a Growing Pain for US Adults

CDC recommends physical activity and self-management education interventions

Arthritis a Growing Pain for US Adults

Arthritis is a painful and sometimes debilitating condition caused by inflammation of the joints. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over 54 million adults are suffering from doctor-diagnosed arthritis in the United States.  Almost half of those diagnosed also described some sort of activity limitations attributed to arthritis pain, a 20 percent increase from 2002.

CDC Report Highlights:

  • Approximately 50 percent of adults with heart disease and diabetes and 30 percent of adults with obesity were also diagnosed with arthritis. Arthritis pain can cause even more complications for patients dealing with such preexisting conditions.
  • Medical expenses, including hip and knee joint replacements, stemming from arthritis pain cost the nation about $81 billion annually.
  • Adults diagnosed with arthritis are often prescribed opioids to help deal with the pain; however, the CDC recommends physical activity which can help reduce pain and improve physical function by almost 40 percent.
  • The CDC also endorses self-management education interventions, which are programs aimed to improve patients’ confidence and teach them skills to manage their condition. These courses have been shown to reduce pain, fatigue, and depression by 10 to 20 percent, but only 11 percent of adults diagnosed with arthritis have ever reported taking them.
  • People were more likely to attend a self-management education program when their healthcare provider recommended one.

Arthritis seems to be a growing and expensive problem in the United States, one that is causing many adults to have trouble completing simple, everyday tasks. Due to the scarcity of patients participating in self-management education interventions or treatment plans which prioritize physical activity over opioids, the CDC report also calls for further research to encourage these types of strategies.

In a teleconference with reporters, the acting director of the CDC, Anne Schuchat, M.D., “called on healthcare providers to do more to encourage patients to slowly increase their physical activity – such as with a short walk or a lap in the pool – and to strive for a healthy weight to reduce pressure on joints.”

You can read the CDC’s full report here

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