Arthritis, originally used to describe joint inflammation, now describes over 100 different rheumatic conditions that affect the joints and the tissues surrounding the joints. People who suffer from these conditions generally experience pain and stiffness around the joints.
There may be many types of arthritis, but even more people suffer from it. 50 million adults in the United States are affected by arthritis. That’s approximately one in five people.
What do those 50 million people look like? What does the face of arthritis look like in the U.S.? At first glance, the most common type of person that suffers from arthritis is an overweight women over the age of 65. Arthritis itself, however, is more diverse than that.
While age is a risk factor for arthritis, with the potential for arthritis increasing with age, there are many people with arthritis that don’t fit the stereotype. In fact, nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65. A form of arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, affects almost 300,000 children under the age of 18. It ranks as one of the most common childhood diseases in the U.S.
Women are more likely to suffer from arthritis than men. Almost 60% of people with arthritis are women. However, one type of arthritis known as gout is much more prevalent in men. 6% of men nationwide suffer from gout, while the condition affects only 2% of women.
Other risk factors, from race to occupation, influence the rates of arthritis, but these do little to show the actual face of arthritis. Arthritis is much bigger and wide-spread than a handful of risk factors can illustrate.
Arthritis is so wide-spread, in fact, that it is currently the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
While it may be impossible to clearly define who is affected by arthritis, you can control some of your own risk factors. Watching your weight and getting appropriate exercise are most important for preventing arthritis, as we’ll talk about tomorrow on the blog.
Early diagnosis and treatment is also crucial for the management of arthritis. Talk to your doctor immediately if you begin to have any symptoms of arthritis. Your doctor may be able to suggest medication or physical or occupational therapy options to help relieve pain and maintain joint mobility.
Do you or somebody you know suffer from arthritis? Share your story about arthritis in the comments!
Image by LeilaParman96 via Flickr