Arthritis: What Every Black Person Should Know

    x-rays of jointsJoint pain, arthritis and other musculoskeletal health issues are rapidly disabling America. Arthritis, for example, is the single greatest cause of chronic pain and disability among Americans. The impact however, is worse among two segments of the population: African Americans and women.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that severe joint pain, activity and work limitations due to arthritis were significantly higher among these groups in comparison to the rest of the population

    …and this health crisis is getting worse.

    Last year, various national health surveys demonstrated that African-Americans disproportionally bear the burden of impaired daily living affected by arthritis and related disabilities. Additionally, arthritis increases the chances for comorbidity in African-Americans. These diseases include diabetes, heart disease and obesity–medical conditions that can be improved with physical activity.

    “The physical and economic burden of arthritic pain and disability is an important connecting thread in the dialogue about health disparities among women and racial/ethnic minorities, yet it is not being widely discussed,” said Charles Nelson M.D, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgical Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a steering committee member at the caucus.

    An estimated 4.6 million African Americans are living with arthritis.

    Arthritis in the United States

    • Arthritis affects 50 million adults in the United States, making it one of the most prevalent health conditions among U.S. adults and the most common cause of disability.

    • Eighty percent of Americans either have or know someone with arthritis and the numbers continue to escalate.

    • Arthritis costs the nation more than $128 billion a year in medical care and lost earnings in 2003.

    • The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA), impacts 27 million Americans.

    • Obesity accelerates the onset of arthritis, 70 percent of obese adults with mild knee OA at sixty will develop advanced end-stage disease by the age of 80.

    • Obesity and other chronic health conditions exacerbate the debilitating impact of arthritis, leading to inactivity, loss of independence, and perpetuating a cycle of chronic conditions.

    • The prevalence of physical inactivity was highest among those with both arthritis and obesity (22.7%) when compared with arthritis only (16.1%) obesity only (13.5%) and neither condition (9.4%).

    • Obesity prevalence among adults with arthritis (35.2%) is significantly higher than adults with no arthritis (23.6%).

    • One in five Americans suffer from doctor-diagnosed arthritis, but the impact is worse among three segments of the population. African-Americans and women experience more severe joint pain, activity and work limitation due to arthritis.

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