Arthritis is the New Jersey’s leading cause of disability, affecting over 1.5 million residents. Of those affected, most (78%) have been diagnosed but are not currently receiving any treatment, and almost half of those diagnosed do not know what type of arthritis they have. Woman have a higher rate of arthritis (28%) compared to men (20%). The rate of arthritis increase with age: 9% of 18 to 44 year olds have arthritis, 32% of 45 to 64 year olds have arthritis, and 53% of those 65 years and older have arthritis. The estimated annual cost of arthritis in New Jersey exceeds 3 billion dollars for medical care and lost productivity.
Risk factors for Arthritis
Age – Arthritis is the leading cause of physical disability among adults age 18 and older.
Gender – Arthritis occurs more frequently in women than in men.
Obesity increases the chance of osteoarthritis, particularly for women
Work factors – repetitive injury and physical trauma contribute to development of osteoarthritis. Repetitive bending, kneeling or squatting increases risk for osteoarthritis of the knee.
Ethnicity – Prevalence of arthritis is similar among ethnic and racial groups, however the disabling effects of arthritis ( i.e. pain, activity and work limitations) affect minority groups more severely.
Preventing and Managing Arthritis
Maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Include plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products; use sugar, salt and fat (especially saturated fat found in animal products) in moderation.
If your weight is higher than your recommended weight, reduce calories and increase your level of physical activity
Increase your physical activity – especially range-of-motion exercises, increasing muscle strength and aerobic or endurance exercises
Avoid repetitive joint motion (bending knee or wrist)
Wear protective gear to minimize your risk for sports-related injuries
Research shows that physical activity decreases pain, improves function and delays disability. In addition, research studies suggest that maintaining an ideal body weight and avoiding joint injuries reduce the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. Obtaining an early diagnosis so that appropriate management, including self-management, can be initiated may improve the quality of life for persons with arthritis.
Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis, including self-management activities such as self-help courses, weight control, and physical activity can help people with arthritis function better, stay productive, and lower health care costs.
Support groups, exercise programs, special events, land-based and water exercise classes, and public forums.
Informational pamphlets and books, listing of physicians and healthcare centers specializing in diagnosing and treating arthritis, up-to-date information on arthritis and related diseases and effective strategies for living better with arthritis.