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October 18, 2021 – Conditions like arthritis and gout that cause stiff, sore joints affect nearly one in four adults in the United States, new federal report says, and numbers are rising as the population ages . As a result, many of these people – almost 44% – are physically limited and cannot fully participate in activities such as hobbies or housework.

Researchers also report that people with disabilities and the poorest are the most vulnerable to these disorders.

The results, based on estimates from 2016 to 2018, “are fully consistent with trends seen in arthritis over the past 20 years,” says Michael LaValley, PhD, biostatistician at the Boston University School of Public Health. “The prevalence is increasing.

The CDC report, released Oct. 8, is based on in-person interviews with tens of thousands of American adults as part of the National Health Interview Survey. Researchers estimate that 24% of adults in the United States – or roughly 58.5 million people – have been diagnosed with general arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia. The number increased by 4.1 million compared to the CDC’s previous round of estimates that covered the years 2013-2015.

In other words, the number of people with these conditions in the United States is estimated to be close to the population of California and Florida combined.

“The aging of the population is one of the factors behind the growing number of people with arthritis, although arthritis is not an inevitable part of aging,” says the report’s lead author and CDC epidemiologist, Kristina Theis, PhD. Other factors, like obesity and poverty, probably play a role as well, she says.

Indeed, arthritic conditions were particularly common in certain groups: 52% of those who could not work or were disabled reported being diagnosed with it. The researchers also found that several groups accounted for high percentages of all people with arthritis, including women (59.3%), those who are obese or overweight (74.2%) and those who are not. not active enough (58%).

Researchers also estimated that 25.7 million people – 44% of people with arthritis and 10% of all American adults – face limits in their activities due to joint stiffness and pain.

“The degree of limitations may be different from person to person,” explains Theis. “For example, a respondent’s knee pain from arthritis might limit them in their grocery storage job. Another respondent’s hand pain from arthritis could prevent them from playing tennis with friends. There may be respondents with hip pain or ankle stiffness due to arthritis, which limits the number of hours they can sit or stand.

Limits can be particularly exhausting in some cases, as people who have them “might have reached the point where they are making decisions about when to shop, do housework, run errands, or even interact with their friends and family. family based on their degree of pain and fatigue from arthritis, ”she said.

Several groups of people are more likely to have limits in their activities, including those who are poor and those who suffer from “severe psychological distress,” according to the report.

Regarding specific conditions, the frequency with which people suffer from osteoarthritis, which occurs when bones deteriorate, can be influenced by the aging of the American population, the increase in obesity, and the behavior of the population. sweet potato, explains LaValley.

“Some also think that there might be environmental factors that increase the risk of certain types of arthritis, but nothing conclusive,” he says. that they have arthritis.

Why might poverty be linked to arthritis? “There are almost certainly occupational exposures that put people at risk for osteoarthritis – having to kneel, bend over, and lift heavy objects – or other musculoskeletal issues like lower back pain,” says LaValley. “These exposures are most likely in jobs that would be primarily reserved for people with few other options due to lower income and education levels. People in these jobs would also be likely to experience financial pressures that would lead to increased psychological distress and less time to take care of their health. “

The new CDC report suggests there are many ways to fight arthritis, including education about treatment and prevention as well as a greater focus on improving inequalities in society.

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