One of the most common causes of disability in the U.S. is arthritis, in combination with other chronic health issues, such as heart disease and diabetes. Arthritis can further restrict a person’s participation in social activities, make it more likely they’ll experience serious psychological distress and limit their ability to work.
That is according to the results of a survey published in June, 2015, in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fully, 73 percent of adults 18 and older surveyed who had arthritis reported having another chronic condition as well.
“What we showed is the more conditions you have, the worse you do on those outcomes, and if arthritis is one of those conditions, you do even worse than that,” says Dr. Charles Helmick, one of the study’s authors and a senior medical epidemiologist at the CDC.
Of those surveyed with arthritis plus at least one other chronic condition, 30 percent reported work disability, compared with 22.5 percent of those who had multiple chronic conditions but not arthritis, and nearly 16 percent of those who had arthritis alone.
What’s more, arthritis can make it difficult to exercise, Helmick says, an important tool in managing diabetes and lessening risk associated with other chronic conditions. That can also lead to weight gain, which further exacerbates health issues.
“Half the people with diabetes have arthritis, half the people with heart disease have arthritis, and they’re told to be physically active. But nobody’s telling them how to be physically active in a safe, less painful way because of their arthritis,” Helmick says.
The CDC is seeking to change that as roughly one-quarter of Americans now struggle with multiple chronic conditions, and more than 1 in 5 of the adults surveyed reported they have arthritis.
The agency emphasizes simple, proven approaches to lower disease risk, like maintaining a healthy weight, along with advising appropriate physical activity and patient involvement in disease management programs.
“What we normally recommend is that people do things that are easy on the joints,” Helmick says. “So that’s walking or swimming or bicycling – things like that are all fine – and you start slow and increase slowly until the point that you’re having good effects.”
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report also highlights the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk with Ease Program, an evidence-based approach to improve balance, reduce pain and improve overall mental and physical health of those with arthritis.
Source: Michael O. Schroeder