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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. Arthritis is more common as people age, but people of all ages (including children) can be affected. Nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65. Arthritis is more common among women (26%) than men (19%) in every age group, and it affects members of all racial and ethnic groups. Arthritis is also more common among adults who are obese than among those who are normal weight or underweight.

Why it's important

Arthritis is the most common chronic condition, a leading cause of chronic pain and disability, and projected to increase as the Utah population grows and ages. It is associated with substantial activity limitation, work disability, and reduced quality of life. Arthritis makes it more difficult to manage other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, or heart disease.

High medical costs and lost wages due to arthritis have profound personal, economic, and societal impact. Among adults with arthritis, the national arthritis-attributable medical care costs and earnings losses added up to $303.5 billion (1% of the 2013 U.S. Gross Domestic Product).1 In Utah, there were 14,252 inpatient hospital visits with a primary diagnosis of arthritis in 2016, amounting to 5.0% of all hospital visits. On average, these patients were charged $44,738 per visit.2

In Utah, among adults with arthirits:3
  • Over half are limited in their daily activities due to their joint symptoms
  • Over one-third (36.7%) are limited in their ability to work
  • Over one-fifth (22.7%) have severe joint pain

1. Murphy LB, Cisternas MG, Pasta DJ, Helmick CG, Yelin EH. Medical expenditures and earnings losses among U.S. adults with arthritis in 2013. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 September 26. [Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1002/acr.23425 abstractExternal.
2. 2016 Utah All Payer Claims Database.
3. 2017 Utah Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (age-adjusted rates).

What is known

Arthritis affects 54 million adults (1 in every 4) in the United States and is projected to increase. Arthritis is a leading cause of disability and is associated with substantial activity limitation, work disability, and reduced quality of life. In 2021, the percentage of Utah adults aged 18 and older with arthritis was 21 percent (crude rate). This represents approximately 508,337 individuals based on the estimated Utah population 18 and older for 2021.1

1. 2017 Utah Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (crude rates).

Who is at risk

The prevalence of arthritis increases with age. Females are more likely to report arthritis than males. White, non-Hispanic individuals are more likely to report arthritis than Hispanic persons. Other risk factors include: being overweight or obese, smoking, joint injuries, infection, and occupations that involve repetitive knee bending and squatting. Specific genes are also associated with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematous (SLE), and ankylosing spondylitis.

How To Manage Arthritis

While the reasons people get arthritis and the degree to which they are limited by it are varied and complex, there are ways to reduce the risk of getting arthritis and proven strategies to help manage arthritis.

Things to Help Prevent Arthritis:
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Protect your joints from injuries
  • Ensure your worksite is free of fall hazards and has proper equipment to fit your body's abilities
  • Visit if you need help quitting smoking

Proven Management Strategies:1
  • Manage your weight: Maintain a healthy weight or lose excess weight if needed.
  • Talk to your doctor: Quickly get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan in order to minimize the negative effects and progression of arthritis.
  • Learn self-management skills: Attend an evidence-based self-management workshop. Participants learn about pain reduction, how to exercise safely, how to move more easily, and how to gain control over arthritis.
  • Get active: According to the CDC, physical activity can reduce pain and improve physical function by up to 40%.2 It may take a while for your joints to adjust to increased physical activity, but continuing to exercise will result in long-term pain relief. You may need to change your activity level depending on your arthritis symptoms, but stay active as your health allows. Some physical activity is better than none.3

Even though opioid prescriptions and use are common among adults with arthritis, opioid use is not a recommended management strategy unless in certain cases, such as end of life care or for temporary, severe flare-ups.4 Learn more and find free self-management education workshops and exercise classes for individuals with arthritis at

1. 5 Proven Ways to Manage Arthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. CDC Vital Signs. March 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Arthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4. Schur P and Gibofsky A. Nonpharmacologic Therapies and Preventive Measures for Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. UpToDate website.

How It's Tracked

Surveillance at the state level 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 BRFSS survey is the only source for tracking arthritis prevalence. Starting in 2012, the BRFSS began offering data using the arthritis case definition question in even and odd years. It is offered in the Chronic Health Conditions Core section of the questionnaire. In odd numbered years the "Burden Questions" appear in the BRFSS core and the Arthritis Management Questions appear in an optional module.

The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 30 May 2024 14:05:34 from Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Fri, 12 Jan 2024 13:29:54 MST