National Arthritis Awareness Month is observed each year in the month of May. It aims to bring awareness about the disease, emphasize the need for further research and encourage physical activity among those who are diagnosed with arthritis. One in four U.S. adults is affected by arthritis. It is the most widespread health condition in the United States. Which means more than 54 million Americans are affected by it, affecting approximately 20% of adults. By 2040 this number is projected to increase to 78 million.
Arthritis is characterized by inflammation of a joint due to reduced cartilage between the joints. The cartilage protects the joints by absorbing pressure and shock when you move or put stress on them. Cartilage is the connective tissue between your joints that is firm yet flexible. Over a 100 types of arthritis exist but osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that is caused by the normal wear and tear of joints. Another common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA, which is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks itself. RA attacks the synovium, a soft tissue that produces a fluid that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints.
Almost half the people with arthritis are limited in their daily activities such as walking, bending, or lifting objects. The prevalence of arthritis is seen more in rural communities. One in three adults in a rural community report of having arthritis, where 4 in 5 residents report work disability. People with arthritis are more likely to suffer from a fall or fall related injuries.
To help people with arthritis to manage their symptoms, low-impact “joint-friendly” physical activities are a proven strategy. Research shows that physical activity can help reduce pain in the joints and improve physical function by 40%. Along with exercise, eating a healthy diet, maintaining healthy weight, controlling blood sugar levels can also help manage the symptoms.
Arthritis by the numbers:
- By 2030, the number of doctor-diagnosed arthritis is expected to increase from 54 million to 67 million.
- Approximately 300,000 babies, kids and teens have arthritis or rheumatoid condition
- It is the No. 1 cause of disability in the US.
- 57% of adults with a heart disease have arthritis.
- 52% of adults with diabetes have arthritis.
- 44% of adults with high blood pressure have arthritis.
- 36% of adults who are obese have arthritis.