Arthritis: It's Only Going to Get Worse

Through 2030, the prevalence of arthritis is expected to rise significantly and obesity may be a factor.

According to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation (AAAL) is expected to increase significantly by 2030.”

The news appeared today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and reveals that 22.2%, or 44.9 million, adults ages 18 and up self-reported doctor diagnosed arthritis. Of this group, 9.4% , or 21.1 million had AAAL.

The CDC performed the research as an update on previous estimates of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and AAAL. The information used to evaluate current future estimates was taken from National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data from 2007 to 2009.

The surveys take place once a year and are conducted in-person. They focus on surveying health status and behaviors of the noninstitutionalized national population and are filled out by individuals of all ages.

The CDC report reveals that arthritis and AAAL represent a major public health problem in the United States. One key step in addressing the issue is to tackle the issue of obesity as well. Obesity prevention programs should be implemented, the report said. Additionally, improving access to and increasing the availability of physical activity programs in the community as well as improving self-education programs in the community are other options as well.

For the report, the data was taken from adults age 18 and older, one per household. According to the report, the respondents were found to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis if they answered “yes” to the question "Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that you have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia?" The respondents were then asked if they were “limited in any way” in terms of their “usual activities because of arthritis joint symptoms.” If the respondendts answered yes to both questions, they “were categorized as having AAAL.”

Those who responded "yes" to having doctor-diagnosed arthritis were asked "Are you limited in any way in any of your usual activities because of arthritis or joint symptoms?" Those responding "yes" to both questions were categorized as having AAAL.

Among the key findings were that:

- During 2007--2009, an estimated 22.2% (49.9 million) of U.S. adults reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

- Arthritis prevalence increased significantly with age.

- Arthritis prevalence was significantly higher among:

- women (24.3%) than among men (18.2%)

- those with less than a high school diploma (21.9%), compared with those with at least some college (20.5%);

- persons who are obese (29.6%), compared with normal/underweight (16.9%) and overweight (19.8% );

- physically inactive persons (23.5%) versus those meeting physical activity recommendations (18.7%);

- current (23.7%) or former (25.4%) smokers, compared with never smokers (19.0%) (Table).

Additionally:

- During 2007--2009, an estimated 9.4% (21.1 million) of U.S. adults reported AAAL.

- Among adults reporting doctor-diagnosed arthritis, the unadjusted prevalence of AAAL was 42.4%.

- After adjustment for age, the greatest prevalences were among:

- persons categorized as obese class III (52.9%)

- those with less than a high school diploma (52.0%),

- physically inactive persons (51.2%),

- current smokers (47.6%),

- those categorized as obese class II (46.7%),

- non-Hispanic blacks (45.5%)

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Are these statistics surprising? Do you plan on sharing this information with your patients?