November 7, 2002
More and more Americans living with arthritis survey says, rehabilitation more important
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—According to a new survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are substantially more Americans living with arthritis than previously thought.
The new state-by-state survey shows that 1 in 3 are affected by the crippling disease. More than 70 million U.S. adults or 33 percent have arthritis, up from the previous estimate of 43 million.
The Arthritis Foundation’s Mississippi chapter says that more than 450,000 Mississippians live with arthritis or chronic joint symptoms.
CDC researchers say the previous estimate was probably too low and that questions on the new survey more accurately reflect undiagnosed people who have chronic joint pain.
There is no real cure for arthritis, said Sabrina Sherrill, director of rehab surgery at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. “It’s a matter of maintaining strength and flexibility,” she said. “It’s a very real and very disabling illness and these new numbers just confirm our fears about the severity of arthritis.”
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, but most all of them cause pain, stiffness and swelling around joints.
“The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis,” said Dr. David Collipp, medical director of rehab surgery at Methodist Rehab. “Osteoarthritis usually comes with age and affects one or several joints like a finger, hip or knee where there is deterioration.”
Risk factors for osteoarthritis include obesity, heredity, overuse or injury of certain joints.
“Rheumatoid arthritis is the most severe and debilitating type of arthritis,” said Dr. Collipp. “It is an auto-immune disease that causes pain and swelling in the joints. People at high risk are those who smoke and those who are obese.”
Additional results of the survey revealed that more women (37.3 percent) than men (28.4 percent) reported having arthritis and that African Americans (35.3 percent) were more likely to report arthritis than any other ethnic group.
West Virginia ranked as the nation’s highest arthritis count with 42.6 percent reporting the illness. Hawaii had the country’s lowest number with only 17.8 percent.
“Arthritis is the number one cause of disability, and the new data confirms that arthritis and chronic joint symptoms are one of our most common public health problems,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding.
“At Methodist Rehabilitation Center, a team of therapists, nurses and physicians work together to help improve the lives of those living with arthritis,” Sherrill said. Through surgery, recovery and therapy, people can cope with this terrible illness, she said.
“We can help them get back to doing the things they’ve always done like cooking and driving,” she added. “A large part of that is early diagnosis and treatment. As soon as someone notices consistent joint pain, they should see their doctor.”
Dr. Collipp’s tips for coping with arthritis include:
Pay attention to symptoms. See a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment program.
Protect your joints. Avoid excess strain on your joints by using larger or stronger joints to carry things.
Keep moving. Exercise helps lessen pain, increases range of motion and helps keep your weight down, which decreases stress on your joints and helps you feel better overall.
Check out all of your options. There are several drugs approved by the Federal Drug Administration for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other arthritis-related diseases.
For more information:
Survey: Arthritis affecting more Americans | The Clarion-Ledger
Dr. David Collipp