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October 7th, 2010
03:35 PM ET

CDC: Achy joints on the rise in U.S.

More than one in five adults in the U.S. have arthritis or other joint-damaging conditions, and the ongoing obesity epidemic may be partly to blame, according to a report issued Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Roughly 50 million U.S. adults have some form of arthritis, the report estimates. That number includes people with osteoarthritis, which is typically caused by aging, as well as those with other, less common conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia. Health.com: 10 food tips for pain patients

The report was based on a national survey conducted between 2007 and 2009. Overall, 9.4 percent of adults said that arthritis prevented them from doing everyday activities. That’s up from 8.8 percent four years earlier – an increase that’s outpacing forecasts made by CDC researchers in 2006.

Although the glut of aging baby boomers is most likely responsible for much of the increase in arthritis-related disability, researchers say that obesity also plays a role. More than two-thirds of Americans are now obese or overweight, according to the most recent government data.

"Any extra weight on the joint – it doesn't matter what kind of joint arthritis you have – is not good," says one of the report's authors, Jennifer Hootman, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in the CDC's arthritis program. "Extra weight adds stress, whether you have rheumatoid [arthritis] or gout or osteoarthritis."

Nearly 30 percent of the obese people in the survey had some form of arthritis, compared with just 20 percent of overweight people and 17 percent of normal-weight people. (Overweight and obesity are defined as having a body mass index above 25 and 30, respectively.) Among the most obese individuals, those with a body mass index of 40 or above, the arthritis rate was 38 percent. Health.com: Eat (yes, eat!) to lose weight

Overall, 45 percent of people who were obese said their arthritis limited their everyday activities, compared with 35 percent of normal-weight people.

"Being obese, having multiple chronic conditions, and low fitness and physical activity increase your risk for having activity limitations," Hootman says. "All of those things are probably contributing."

The CDC report highlights several other potential risk factors for arthritis. The condition is more prevalent among women (24 percent) than among men (18 percent), among people who live a sedentary lifestyle (24 percent) versus those who are physically active (18 percent), and among smokers (24 percent) versus nonsmokers (19 percent).

Public health officials expect arthritis rates to rise as the population continues to age. At just under 37 years, the median age in the U.S. is higher than ever before and is expected to increase through 2035, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.

Not much can be done about those demographic trends. On the other hand, obesity and other factors that contribute to arthritis-related disability can – and should – be addressed by individuals and doctors, Hootman says. Health.com: Take control of your arthritis

"Activity limitation is preventable, and if you already have some limitation, that can be changed through exercise, physical therapy, appropriate medical management, [and] losing weight," she says. "We don't want people with arthritis who are currently limited in their activities to think it has to be that way. There are things they can do."

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

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Filed under: Arthritis • CDC • Health.com

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. anonymouse

    i forgot, what are the possible side effects of Lipitor and the flu vaccine?

    October 7, 2010 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. VB

    Amazing how Lyme disease isn't listed anywhere in here but fibromyalgia sure is. Uncover the epidemic...google under our skin to see just how prevalent it is.

    October 7, 2010 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. jmo

    And the commonly prescribes antibiotic, levaquin, which can cause serious damage to tendons

    October 7, 2010 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Frieda

    I have found that the OPC-3 Isotonix by Market America took care of my joint pains....I have also had other people tell me the same thing.... ....I don't miss a day!!!

    October 7, 2010 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Bob

    When you put on xtra pounds and you drive your car everywhere.. We'll the old joints just aren't going to work well..

    October 7, 2010 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. BEE

    Really CDC?.. it's one of the most common symptoms of lyme disease. I know it was for me anyway here in TN. But most doctors dismiss lyme because you're still using outdated testing and say it's only in the northeastern U.S. even though there are cases in every state. I got lyme disease from my own backyard (in the city) and you guys can't even acknowledge that people are dying from it.

    October 7, 2010 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sandy

      And that's if you're normal weight. If you're fat, your problem is always attributed to your size. You could walk in with ticks still clinging to your skin, but your joint pain would be a result of your being overweight.

      October 7, 2010 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
  7. Bad Patient

    corn, and maybe flu shots (eggs).

    October 7, 2010 at 23:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. SickByTick

    I'm sorry... but fibromyalgia is caused by LYME disease and possibly it's common co-infections.
    I can't understand why the CDC would not acknowledge this fact...or at the very least it's high probability.
    My whole family of 5 has Lyme disease (3 of us CDC + in a state where Lyme disease "does not exist" according to the IDSA.
    Out of the five of us, myself..my 7 yr old son and 9 yr old daughter have "fibromyalgia". Two with CDC+ Lyme and the other clinically diagnosed with Lyme and positive for Ehrlichia.
    Would the CDC please get a clue?

    October 8, 2010 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Muriel

    CDC...when will LYME disease be UNCOVERED as the CAUSE for the many SYMPTOMS such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatique, MS, ALS, and too many others to mention. Way too many lives are being lost as a result of Lyme. It is a travesty that is being ignored.

    Please Google "Under Our Skin"...the untold story of Lyme Disease. See the trailer... then see the documentary, for purchase or request a screening in your community.

    October 8, 2010 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Diane J. Marie

    Yes–a common symptom of Lyme is "Lyme arthritis." Lyme is badly epidemic–found on every continent but Antarctica. The IDSA, the NIH and the CDC are lieing about the prevalence and seriousness of Lyme.

    More serous problems can happen with chronic Lyme: neurological problems, including corgnitive function; GI tract problems; damage to the body and brain; and more. Children with chronic Lyme sometiems can't go to school for months or years because they can't keep up at school: with their cognitive problems. In every way their development is arrested. The longer doctors ignored them the more ill they became. Once Lyme is chronic treatment takes 1 – 3 years, often longer.

    Lyme has caused MS, lupus, ALS (Lou Gehrig Disease) fibromyalgia, Parkinson's Alzheimers, heart attack (yes, even in children,) and more.

    Typical: We go from doctor ... to doctor ... to doctor ... to doctor ... to doctor ... (I saw 31 doctors before getting treatment, getting more damage from illness) before we finally figure-out for ourselves that we probably have Lyme. By then many of us have suffered hideous pain for example from Lyme meningitis, other serious neurological problems, Gi tract problems and arthritic pain.

    Information: http://www.ilads.org http://www.lymedisease.org http://www.columbia-lyme.org

    Problem: IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) Lyme guidelines panel members are crooked. May 1, 2008, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal issued a press release of his investigation into the IDSA Lyme panel members, finding "conflicts of interest." It's here: http://www.ct.gov/ag/cwp/view.asp?A=2795&Q=414284

    That the article does not mention Lyme as a big cause of all arthritis is a travesty.

    Facts: Most never get a Lyme rash. Many cases of ringworm (rash) are misdiagnosed–actually they have Lyme. Most do not test positive. The "Lyme Titers Test" (ELISA) is wrong so often that insurance companies use it to deny treatment. Lyme is not a "Wait And See" illness, it's an "Act Now" disease.

    October 8, 2010 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Karen

    Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Pernicious anemia, Crohn’s disease, Addison’s disease, Type I Diabetes, IgA nephropathy, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid and Reactive arthritis, Lupus, Dermatomyositis, Sjögren’s syndrome, Multiple sclerosis, Myasthenia gravis, Grave’s disease and Celiac disease are all autoimmune diseases. Lectins and other compounds found in cereal grains, legumes, nightshades, egg white and dairy may (and not only when someone is genetically predisposed) damage the gut and/or increase its permeability. This is called a leaky gut and almost all autoimmune diseases start in the gut. Here, http://bit.ly/a9Gvjk you can read how to reverse a leaky gut and stop autoimmune.

    October 8, 2010 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. jack3

    It is worse than any horror movie I know to be told you test positive for something and yet no doctor believes you have it. Docs have no problem prescribing months or years of antibiotics if you have acne, but if you are positive for lyme and don't get better after a month you're done. I'm sorry all my fellow sufferers, it is a reality I'm sure none of us could have imagined.

    October 8, 2010 at 06:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. linda777

    The REASON we are seeing an increase in the number of people with joint pain is that the number of people getting LYME DISEASE is on the rise!!!! Joint pain is one of the main symptoms of LYME DISEASE, especially among those who have had it for a while....like myself!! Fibromyalgia, CFIDS, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, ALS, MS and many other "newer" diseases, ALL have their roots in LYME DISEASE.
    When the CDC gets its head out of the proverbial sand and begins to acknowledge what thousands and thousands of patients in the US (INCLUDING STATES SOUTH OF THE MASON-DIXON LINE) already know, we might actually begin to get some decent testing for this horrible disease and perhaps even some effective treatment protocols. The ILADS is the only organization that has been willing and able to put together protocol guidelines that make sense and that are effective. (The IDSA study was illegal at best and protocols a total joke!!)
    For anyone wanting the TRUTH, check out the documentary, "Under Our Skin". It will show you REAL people with Lyme disease and how often this disease is misdiagnosed as something else AND how patients are undertreated and often times DISMISSED as hypochondriacs! Well, I've got news for the CDC...."hypochondriacs" dont' die of hypochondria....Lyme sufferers are DYING from Lyme disease!!!

    October 8, 2010 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. WWRRD

    Most of this is preventable. It is just another side effect of obesity. The Lipitor thing is also related to poor diet and obesity. So many people are rationalizing obesity with claims of it being glandular or genetic. What bunk. We're eating ourselves to death and we are sedentary. Instead of watching other people exercise on ESPN on Sundays while eating chips we ought to be doing something like playing soccer, football, tennis, running. Burn up those calories folks and this will go away!

    October 8, 2010 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. WWRRD

    I love how the model they use is well toned and fit. Not representative of the folks having the problem.

    October 8, 2010 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Another CA Survivor

    I find that my joints hurt more (esp my hands) whenever I eat highly processed foods. For example, chips and dip, crackers and cheese, boxed mixes – those you add meat to and prepare as a main dish, and many canned foods. The more I avoid these items, the better my skeletal system feels! What do others think about this?

    October 8, 2010 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Felicia

      I have a friend who swears by a gluten free diet. And, I am almost convinced that she may be on to something. I tried to go gluten free for 30 days, and I did feel the benefits of it, as far as joint pain. Read up on it, and give it a try. It's not a lifestyle that I want to commit to forever, too bland and no wine! Oh, and fat haters, I'm not overweight, so sick that I have to even have that as a precursor to a discussion nowadays. Sick.

      October 8, 2010 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
  17. owarfhupwairepqughqpugh

    Old people are on the rise too. Coincidence? I think not.

    October 8, 2010 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Marie

    I have to disagree with most of the comments in that report. First twice I have lost at least 25 pounds and both time my RA got worse to the point where I could not get out of bed. Mind you I walk 30 minutes a day every day. So for me weight is not making it worse. The statement that it can be prevented. Not true. I have limmitations that was caused by my RA and you can't prevent RA. My rheumatologist have told me to slow down that I am doing to mcuh and I still have limitations. I have been trhough all the biologic medications and then have all stoped working for me. I am waiting to see what new drug will be approved to see if that one works. So to say that it can be prevented is not true in all cases. I think it is a study more about being overweight then arthrtis. I can't move my right shoulder due to my RA and I have been to physicotherapy. So I did every thing that was stated but it still didn't prevent the limitations. I don't like when they make blanket statements like that.

    October 8, 2010 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. marianewyork

    Lyme, Erlichia, Babesia-All dangerous diseases spread by ticks that the CDC is aware of and sees as a probable emerging issue. These tick borne illnesses cause dementia, joint issues, kidney damage and more.

    October 8, 2010 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. kate

    This news won't change anyone, everybody knows that obesity leads to an insane amount of health problems later in life, but still no one seems to care. If you're tired of being over weight check out this site http://www.diet-myths.com

    October 8, 2010 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. JohnStClair

    Tong Ren has good results for the treatment of arthritis. The technique is simple and easy. Using the anatomical doll and magnetic hammer, tap on the thoracic T1, T2 and T3 points as well as the ouch point where there is pain or complaining. Usually this takes 10 to 15 minutes and the patient can feel the improvement. See http://www.tomtam.com for the group tapping videos. The reason this works is that it is necessary to correct the T cells' function. T2 is the thymus gland blockage point. Removing this blockage restores the correct functioning of the T cells. Also, Tui Na grab and press treatment is recommended in treating arthritis through the physical removal of calcium blockages.

    October 8, 2010 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. hsr0601

    1. As is clear from the latest finding that Fruits, Veggies Help Ward Off Lung Cancer, I still think Fruits are instrumental to stem even a broader spectrum of cancers when vitamins and the other ingredients in them Are Mixed with Other Nutrition, if quite a few media cover it up in favor of livestock businesses, noticeably in the U.S.

    It might sound outlandish, but the Vital Vitamins Mixed with Other Nutrition seem able to initiate us into the world of Vitality, improving resistance to depression.

    Plus, as we are all aware , taking a bath day-to day is best for improving immunity to depression as our body is also taking a breath.
     
    2. We are living in an age of Automation , naturally so the excess diet is more likely to work against our wellness since the residues lingering in our body should act as a hot bed for all forms of germs, bacteria, virus and the likes.
     
    3. Parents might want to turn focus from their marriage life to the education of children.
     
    A common knowledge has it that the unceasing affection & dedication of parents keep their amiable children off all harmful things.
    At the moment, the country is struggling to find out how to heighten the educational level.
     
    I guess the first & critically vital step needs to begin with parents' ardent zeal, which encourages their adorable children to use a computer mainly for educational needs, and doesn't accept unqualified teachers.
     
    It might be worth noting that the especially ardent dedication of Mozart's father is behind his greatness.

    October 9, 2010 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Healthy Living

    Regards

    August 26, 2011 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. sinusejill

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    June 16, 2015 at 06:45 | Report abuse | Reply

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