News from the FDA/CDC

Arthritis joint pain, inactivity vary greatly across U.S.



Almost 31% of the estimated 54 million adults in the United States with arthritis have severe joint pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prevalence of severe joint pain in adults with arthritis, 2017

Nationally, the prevalence of severe joint pain was 30.8% in adults with arthritis in 2017, but state-specific, age-standardized prevalences varied from a low of 20.8% in Colorado to 45.2% in Mississippi. Regionally, prevalences of both severe joint pain and physical inactivity in arthritis patients were highest in the Southeast, noted Dana Guglielmo, MPH, of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, and associates (MMWR 2019 May 3;68(17):381-7).

The prevalence of arthritis itself was lowest in the District of Columbia at 15.7% and highest in West Virginia at 34.6%. Alabama, at 30.4%, was the only other state above 30%. Colorado had the lowest physical inactivity rate (23.2%), while Kentucky had the highest (44.4%), the investigators said.

The differences among arthritis patients were demographic as well as geographic in 2017. The prevalence of severe joint pain was 33.0% among those aged 18-44 years and 35.6% in those 45-64 but only 25.1% in those aged 65 and older. Whites had a 27.4% prevalence of severe joint pain, compared with 42.0% for Hispanics and 50.9% for blacks. For arthritis patients with a college degree, the age-standardized prevalence of severe joint pain was 15.1%, compared with 35.5% for high school graduates and 54.1% for those with less than a high school degree, based on data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

“Although persons with arthritis report that pain, or fear of causing or worsening it, is a substantial barrier to exercising, physical activity is an inexpensive intervention that can reduce pain, prevent or delay disability and limitations, and improve mental health, physical functioning, and quality of life with few adverse effects,” wrote Ms. Guglielmo and associates. Adults with severe joint pain “should engage in regular physical activity according to their abilities and avoid physical inactivity [since] even small amounts of physical activity can improve physical functioning in adults with joint conditions.”

SOURCE: Guglielmo D et al. MMWR 2019 May 3;68(17):381-7.

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