Arthritis Increase

A new study says as many as a third of adults in Wisconsin have arthritis -- twice as many as earlier reports.

The increase could be attributed to an aging population and a change in how arthritis is defined.

Those people who have clinical symptoms of arthritis, not just those being treated, are now included in the count.

The study by the Wisconsin Arthritis Advisory Council says about 34 percent of adults in the state have some form of arthritis. That's about one-point-three million people.

Health care providers say many people can control or prevent the condition with exercise and healthy eating.

Arthritis and related conditions affect nearly 43 million Americans. That's one in every six people.

Extended Web Coverage


  • Arthritis refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.

  • Certain conditions may affect other parts of the body -- such as the muscles, bones, and some internal organs -- and can result in debilitating, and sometimes life-threatening, complications.

  • The two most common forms of the disease, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, have the greatest public health implications.

    Osteoarthritis: results from the wear and tear of life. The pressure of gravity causes physical damage to the joints and surrounding tissues, leading to pain, tenderness, swelling, and decreased function.

  • Initially, osteoarthritis is non-inflammatory and its onset is subtle and gradual, usually involving one or only a few joints.

  • The joints most often affected are the knee, hip and hand.

  • Pain is the earliest symptom, usually made worse by repetitive use.

  • Osteoarthritis affects more than 20 million people, and the risk of getting it increases with age.

  • Other risk factors include joint trauma, obesity, and repetitive joint use.

    Rheumatoid arthritis: is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium (cell lining inside the joint).

  • This chronic, potentially disabling disease causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints.

  • While the cause remains elusive, doctors suspect that genetic factors are important in rheumatoid arthritis.

  • This form of arthritis affects more than 2 million people in the United States, and two to three times more women are affected than men.

Prevention Measures
There are ways to help prevent arthritis. Both CDC and the American College of Rheumatology recommend:

  • Maintaining ideal weight

  • Taking precautions to reduce repetitive joint use and injury on the job

  • Avoiding sports injuries by performing warm-ups and strengthening exercises using weights

  • Choosing appropriate sports equipment

Source: (The Medical College of Wisconsin Healthlink Web site) contributed to this report.

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