According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40% of Americans suffer from arthritis. And what is significant is that of the 54 million Americans who have this chronic joint disorder, not all are elderly individuals.
The report states that about 60% of individuals with arthritis are those in the ‘working’ age group- that is between ages 18-64. The researchers looked at patient data collected between 2013-2015 from the National Health Interview Survey.
Arthritis affects the joints and in 20% (24 million individuals), it has been shown to limit many types of physical activities. They are not able to perform simple daily activities like lifting grocery bags, walking to the corner grocery store or performing any type of exercise.
Even though arthritis often results in pain during motion, the report reveals that regular physical activity can help decrease the symptoms by at least 40 percent. Unfortunately, despite the well-known benefits of physical activity, nearly 33% of adults affected with arthritis maintain a sedentary lifestyle.
Osteoarthritis is usually managed with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers, including opiates. However, the recent CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain recommends limiting the use of opioids and using other means of pain control.
The CDC recommends that patients should be educated about their disorder and must learn how to cope with the pain, depression, and stress which occurs in nearly 20% of the arthritic population. Again, the report states that less than10% of patients with arthritis participate in educational programs. However, they are more likely to be compliant with these programs if they were recommended by their healthcare provider.
The report also noted a high prevalence of other serious disorders among individuals suffering from arthritis including obesity and heart disease. The combination of these two disorders with arthritis is difficult to manage.
However, Dr. Gafanovich notes that this study does have limitations. Some of the participants in the survey had not been formally diagnosed with arthritis by a healthcare worker. Secondly there may have been bias in the responses by the participants in reporting their physical disability – for fear of not being socially accepted in society.
The CDC is now trying to develop educational programs that can teach these patients about self-management strategies and how they could become more physically active as this is one of the most effective strategies to manage the disease.