Arthritis: Big burden for boomers

RBC — A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that arthritis is hitting the nation’s aging population of baby boomers and is projected to increase by 40 percent in the next two decades.
According to the report, nearly one in five U.S. adults, or 46 million people, have arthritis and an estimated 67 million people will be affected by 2030.
The study, published in the January issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism, found that osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, affects 27 million people, up from 1990 estimates of 21 million. The study also estimates that 294,000, or one in 250, U.S. children and teenagers under age 18 have been diagnosed with arthritis or another rheumatologic condition. In Colorado, nearly 800,000 adults, or one in four, have been diagnosed with arthritis.
As the most common cause of disability in the United States, arthritis already limits activity for 19 million of the 46 million U.S. adults with the disease. It also exacts a hefty financial toll on the country: $128 billion annually including $3 billion in Colorado.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environ ment’s Arthritis Program and the Arthritis Foundation Rocky Mountain Chapter, urge the public to participate in interventions and programs that could reduce the impact of arthritis.
Arthritis Program manager, Penny K. Studebaker, said, “Individuals must educate themselves about managing their arthritis. There are many self-help programs and resources available for people to manage arthritis and the pain and disability that come with the disease.”
Studebaker said, “The best way to reduce arthritis pain is by becoming more physically active, even moderately. Individuals with arthritis who participate in safe and effective forms of exercise will improve their quality of life by reducing their pain and becoming more flexible, active and energetic.”
Studebaker said walking, swimming and biking are particularly good activities for people with arthritis, as is dancing, gardening and washing the car.
For adults and children living with arthritis, the following resources for managing the disease are available from the Arthritis Foundation Rocky Mountain Chapter:
n Patient education materials including free brochures and booklets.
n Community-based health education and exercise programs, including the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program and the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program.
n The national, bimonthly consumer magazine, Arthritis Today.
For information about local Arthritis Foundation programs or for a complimentary copy of the Arthritis Foundation’s ‘Arthritis Answers’ brochure, which includes information on preventing and controlling arthritis and tips on making daily activities easier on joints, visit the Arthritis Foundation at www.arthritis.org or call 1-800-475-6447.