The burden of arthritis is greater for African Americans and Hispanics, despite lower prevalence among these groups according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report published in the May issue of Preventing Chronic Disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, these findings suggest a critical need to expand the reach of effective strategies aimed at arthritis prevention and management, particularly among groups bearing a disproportionate burden.
The report finds that the prevalence of activity limitation, work limitation and severe joint pain are significantly higher among African Americans and Hispanics. These two groups are nearly twice as likely as whites to have severe joint pain and work limitations and 1.3 times as likely to have activity limitations.
"Arthritis is a debilitating disease that profoundly impacts the lives of millions of Americans on a daily basis," said Dr. Patience White, vice president of public health for the Arthritis Foundation. "The effects of the 46 million Americans with arthritis on the economy are enormous; the direct and indirect medical costs of this disease are estimated to be $128 billion each year." With the aging of the baby boomer population, the prevalence of arthritis is expected to rise significantly from 46 million Americans to 67 million Americans by 2030, adds White.
Fortunately, there are simple steps everyone can take to prevent and decrease the pain and disability of arthritis. Small amounts of weight loss and physical activity can make a big difference. For example, for every one pound of weight loss, there is a four-pound reduction in the load exerted on each knee. In addition, safe and effective self-management education programs are available.
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