The leading causes of disability in the U.S. are arthritis
and related rheumatic conditions, which cause joint pain and
inflammation in sufferers. Arthritis results from immune system
disorders or wearing down of the cartilage and tissues of
the joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control,
the prevalence of arthritis and chronic joint pain and stiffness
may be higher than previously thought.
Questionnaires administered to randomly chosen adults in
all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico provided
data on arthritis incidence. Arthritis prevalence was defined
as doctor diagnosis; prevalence of chronic joint symptoms,
or CJS, was determined when patients responded "yes" to "pain,
aching, stiffness, or swelling in or around a joint" in the
previous year during "most days for at least a month."
overall prevalence of CJS/arthritis was 33%, or approximately
70 million adults. By categories, the percentages of American
adults estimated to suffer from specific conditions were:
arthritis (11%), CJS (10%) and both CJS and physician-diagnosed
Arthritis symptoms can affect anyone, particularly the elderly,
women and those who are overweight and lead sedentary lives.
The best way to avoid developing arthritis is to maintain
a healthy diet and weight and get adequate sleep. Conservative
treatments for arthritis include low-impact regular aerobic
exercise, massage, acupuncture and heat and cold therapy.
Bolen J, Helmick CG, et al. Prevalence of self-reported arthritis
or chronic joint symptoms among adults - United States, 2001.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC) 2002:51(42),
For more studies on joint pain, click here.