/publications/issue/2003/2003-08/2003-08-7338

Arthritis to Double in Older Adults

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Statistics indicate that by 2030 the number of older adults in the United States with arthritis or chronic joint problems will double from 21.4 million to 41.1 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. That projection is significant because such joint problems are already the leading cause of disability in this country.

Experts attribute the expected increase to the fact that adults are living longer, the aging population is increasing, and more chronic diseases are being diagnosed and treated.

The researchers applied data from the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System?a nationwide survey that included questions about joint symptoms?to projected population data. For example, from 2005 to 2030, the percentage of the US population comprised of older adults is expected to increase from 13% to 20%. Also, estimates through 2025 show dramatic differences in arthritis frequency based on state residence.

"Decreasing the impact will require effective public health interventions that improve function, decrease pain, and delay disability among persons with arthritis," according to an accompanying editorial.