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Arthritis includes more than 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions, the most common of which is osteoarthritis. Other forms of arthritis that occur often are rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and gout. Symptoms include pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints. Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect multiple organs and cause widespread symptoms.

Over 54 million people - 23% of adults in the US - have arthritis. Arthritis is more common among adults aged 65 years or older, but people of all ages (including children) can be affected. Over half of adults with arthritis (32 million) are of working age 18-65 years. Arthritis is more common among women (24%) than men (18%) in every age group, and it affects members of all racial and ethnic groups. Arthritis commonly occurs with other chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and obesity which can make it harder for people to manage these conditions.

Arthritis affects 54.4 million adults in the U.S. and is a leading cause of disability. The annual direct medical costs are at least $140 billion. Arthritis is also associated with substantial activity limitation, work disability, and reduced quality of life.

Findings from the National Health Interview Survey (2013-2015) indicated that 43.5% (23.7 million) of adults 18 and older with arthritis have limitations in their usual activities due to their arthritis.

In 2017, 21.0% of Hawai'i adults reported having arthritis. Arthritis prevalence ranged from 6.9% among persons ages 25-34 to 48.9% among persons ages 75 and older. Rates were higher among women than men after age 45.

The age-adjusted prevalence of arthritis for 2017 in Hawai'i by county ranged from a low of 15.9% in Maui County, to a high of 22.3% in Hawai'i County.

The crude prevalence of arthritis in Hawai'i was 20.2% in 2017, which was slightly lower than the U.S. crude median prevalence of 24.8%.

The prevalence of arthritis increases with age. Females are more likely to report arthritis than males. Native Hawaiians are more likely to report arthritis than Caucasian persons. Having heart disease or diabetes or being overweight are also risk factors. Specific genes are associated with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and ankylosing spondylitis.

Other risk factors include joint injuries, infection, and occupations that involve repetitive knee bending and squatting.

Learning techniques to reduce pain and limitations can be beneficial to people with arthritis. Self-management education workshops can help individuals gain control of their pain by teaching them easy ways to reduce pain and limitations. Topics include ways to reduce pain, benefits of exercise and how to exercise safely, how to do more and move more easily, and how to gain control over arthritis. 

Talk to your doctor about medication management and weight control to improve arthritis symptoms.

Regular, appropriate physical activity can reduce arthritis pain and improve function by about 40%. Just 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week can help reduce joint pain and improve the ability to move in just four to six weeks. People can even break exercise into three, 10-minute increments throughout the day for the same impact.

Surveillance is essential for assessing the burden of arthritis, describing how arthritis affects various sub populations, monitoring trends over time, and decision making for targeting interventions, allocating resources, and shaping state health policy.

The CDC tracks arthritis prevalence using the National Health Interview Survey and the state-based Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS also provides more information about arthritis-related disability in Hawai'i. Starting in 2011, the BRFSS began offering data using the arthritis case definition question every year. In odd numbered years "Burden Questions" appear in the BRFSS core and the Arthritis Management Questions appear in an optional module.

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