Arthritis Sufferers Much Higher Than Current Estimates
Arthritis affects a much higher percentage of the adult population and at a younger age than previously thought.
A study recently published in Arthritis & Rheumatology indicates that the number of people suffering from arthritis in the United States has been significantly underestimated, especially among those who are older than 65.
Current estimates of arthritis rely on a single survey question which asks if a health professional has ever told them they have arthritis, which misses many cases.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have developed a better method for detecting arthritis based on three factors: doctor-diagnosed arthritis, chronic joint symptoms, and whether symptom duration exceeded 3 months.
In their analysis of the 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the researchers found that arthritis affects a much higher percentage of the adult population and at a younger age than previously thought.
Of 33,672 participants, 19.3% of men and 16.7% of women age 18-64 years reported joint symptoms that were not accompanied by a doctor’s diagnosis.
For participants 65 anni, and older, the respective proportions were 15.7 and 13.5% respectively.
The prevalence of arthritis was 29.9% in men aged 18-64 years, 31.2% in women aged 18-64 years, 55.8% in men aged 65 years and older, and 68.7% in women aged 65 years and older.
Arthritis affected 91.2-M US adults, that is 36.8% of the population, in Y 2015, which included 61.1-M persons between the ages of 18-64 years, 31.6% of the population.
The researchers found that the prevalence of arthritis is 68% higher than previously reported, since national estimates did not correct for measurement errors in the current surveillance methods.
“Our findings are important because of underestimated, yet enormous, economic and public health impacts of arthritis including healthcare costs and costs from loss of productivity and disability, including in adults younger than 65 years of age,” said researcher Dr. S. Reza Jafarzadeh.
“Studies have reported a rising rate of surgeries such as total knee replacement that outpaced obesity rates in recent years, especially among younger adults affected by arthritis.” He noted that current arthritis surveillance methods, which have been used since 2002, should be revised to increase their accuracy.
For those who have arthritis and want to slow its progression, losing weight might help.
A study published in the journal Radiology divided overweight or obese people with osteoarthritis of the knee into 3 groups:
- those who lost more than 10% of their body weight
- those who lost 5 to 10% of their body weight, and
- a control group whose weight remained stable.
Patients who lost 5% of their total weight had lower rates of cartilage degeneration when compared with stable weight participants, and degeneration slowed even more in patients who lost 10% of their body weight.
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