More than 54 million people in U.S. have arthritis. Here's how to prevent, treat it

10, Apr 2024

Arthritis is a relatively common condition that is growing in prevalence.

It currently affects 1 in 4 U.S. adults, which is roughly 54 million people. Arthritis is the No. 1 cause of disability.

May is Arthritis Awareness Month. It is time to raise awareness about the impact of arthritis.

It is time to educate the population on the growing prevalence of arthritis and encourage lifestyle choices that aid in its prevention.

Arthritis is a condition causing inflammation in the joints. Symptoms develop over time, starting in smaller joints and eventually spreading to larger ones.

Symptoms depend on the type of arthritis and gradually worsen with age.

There are many types of arthritis, but the most common are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


OA is the most common degenerative joint disease involving gradual damage to your joint’s cartilage, breaking down and leaving the bones unprotected.

Grinding bones can cause pain and restricted movement. Fluid may build up within the joints, or bone overgrowth may occur during this disease process.

The disorder can cause permanent damage to the joints that can be visible, like in knobby finger joints, but sometimes changes can only be seen with an X-ray.

Rheumatoid arthritis

The second most common type of arthritis is RA, a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting the lining of the joints.

RA often affects the joints in the hands, wrists, ankles, knees or shoulders.

In RA, the body’s immune system attacks the synovium (a soft tissue lining the spaces of joints). The synovium becomes swollen and inflamed, eventually destroying cartilage and bone within the joint.

Arthritis symptoms typically include joint pain, swelling, morning stiffness, and decreased range of motion. 

Arthritis can be prevented

While arthritis is increasingly common, it can be prevented with regular physical activity and other lifestyle choices.

Low-impact exercises, like water aerobics and yoga, are the best options to prevent joint degeneration.

Physical activity improves muscle strength, reduces joint pain and fights fatigue. Exercise can also ease the tight muscles and ligaments, increasing flexibility and range of motion.

There’s no cure for arthritis, but various treatments can help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.

Treatments for arthritis

Treatment options include medication, physical therapy and weight management. A physical therapist will work closely with you to determine the best course of treatment to help improve your mobility.

You may also get recommendations for various orthotics to reduce joint stress.

Like exercise, eating a proper, nutritious diet has many benefits, such as maintaining good health and increasing defenses against arthritis.

Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, are suitable for reducing pain and inflammation in the body and the joints.

Trout, sardines, salmon and chia seeds are high in omega-3s and can improve joint health.

Nutritional supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin may help reduce the severity of arthritis.

However, there is no proven research demonstrating that either supplement will treat symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis is often treated with medications to slow down the disease progression.

Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is treated with pain relievers like NSAIDs and physical therapy. 

While arthritis remains the most common cause of joint pain, other conditions can also cause pain, such as bursitis and tendinitis.

Injuries or other illnesses can also lead to joint pain.

So, it is essential to properly diagnose the diseased condition and determine the appropriate course of treatment.


Providing Quality Medical Care

Dr. Sue Mitra and her staff strive to offer their patients the best care, advice and services available in the medical field with the goal to keep patient healthy & happy.