One in four American adults experience disability due to arthritis, according to a recent report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 54 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis and the number of those disabled by it has risen by 20 percent in the last 15 years. Arthritis can cause joint aches, stiffness, swelling, and pain that can affect normal daily functioning. These symptoms can make simple tasks like holding a glass or carrying grocery bags especially difficult and take a toll on mobility, as walking and using stairs may become painful for some.
The most prevalent types of arthritis found in American adults are osteoarthritis—which occurs as you age due to wear and tear on the joints—as well as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia. The joint disease is commonly treated with narcotic pain medication in the form of opioids, though due to the adverse side effects linked with these drugs, the CDC has highlighted the benefits of other treatment options. One of the most effective alternatives to treating arthritis with painkillers is weight management and exercise.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, the acting director of the CDC, explained, “Physical activity is a proven strategy to ease pain and reduce symptoms among people with arthritis.” Activities like walking, swimming, and biking have been found to reduce symptoms by as much as 40 percent, however, many arthritis sufferers are not active. This may be due to symptom severity, though if patients are able to push through the initial challenges, regular exercise could prove beneficial in reducing symptoms and increasing their function and mobility.
Arthritis was also found to be more prevalent in individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease—issues that become more difficult to manage with the addition of arthritis. Along with regular exercise, the CDC’s report also recommends better education in terms of self-management of the joint disease in order to prevent the condition from worsening. Doctor recommended workshops and programs can help patients learn strategies for coping with and reducing their symptoms and should be taken advantage of.