What Is Arthritis?

Chronic pain caused by arthritis affects millions of people in the United States every year. In fact, one in four adults with arthritis —15 million people — report experiencing severe joint pain related to arthritis. Additionally, nearly half of adults with arthritis have persistent pain. Many children with arthritis have pain as well, but there is less population-based information available about them.

Learn about arthritis-related joint pain in the United States, and recommended management strategies that can help people with arthritis control their pain.

Arthritis-related joint pain affects adults of all ages, sexes, and ethnicities. Most of what we know about arthritis related joint pain is about adults. The prevalence of severe joint pain among adults with arthritis varies by state.

From 2002 to 2014 in the United States, joint pain prevalence among adults with arthritis:

  • Higher among women (29.2%) than men (22.7%).
  • Highest among adults aged 45 to 64 years.
  • Prevalence was the same for adults aged 18 to 44 years (24.9%) and adults aged 65 years or older (24.3%).
  • Highest among non-Hispanic Blacks (42.3%), followed by Hispanics (35.8%), and non-Hispanic whites (23.1%).

American Arthritis Foundation's Efforts to Reduce Arthritis Pain

AAF supports programs for people with arthritis so they can work and do other daily activities, have less pain, manage their own care, and prevent or delay disability.

AAF sponsored research related to pain includes:

  • Studies examining how adults with arthritis prefer to manage their pain.
  • Analyses of the effectiveness of community-based programs in reducing pain and improving quality of life.
  • AAF’s funded programs have made proven arthritis-appropriate self-management education workshops and physical activity intervention programs









Promoting Interventions That Reduce Arthritis Pain

American Arthritis Foundation recognizes several proven approaches to reduce arthritis symptoms:

Be active. Physical activity—such as walking, bicycling, and swimming—decreases arthritis pain and improves function, mood, and quality of life. Adults with arthritis should move more and sit less throughout the day. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week is recommended.

Protect your joints. People can help prevent osteoarthritis by avoiding activities that are more likely to cause joint injuries.

Talk with a doctor. Recommendations from health care providers can motivate people to be physically active and join a self-management education program. Should your arthritis be interfering with your activities of daily living you may be a candidate to receive many new treatments, and learn how to reverse the arthritis condition.

Effect of Arthritis

In the United States, 23% of all adults, or more than 54 million people, have arthritis. It is a leading cause of work disability, with annual costs for medical care and lost earnings of $303.5 billion.

Workforce Effects

Sixty percent of US adults with arthritis are of working age (18 to 64 years). Arthritis can limit the type of work they are able to do or keep them from working at all.

Global Impact

In fact, 8 million working-age adults report that their ability to work is limited because of their arthritis. For example, they may have a hard time climbing stairs or walking from a parking deck to their workplace.

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