About 58.5 million U.S. adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By 2040, the CDC reports that the number is expected to increase to 78 million.

During May, which is National Arthritis Awareness Month, the focus is on this chronic joint disease that causes pain, disability and loss of function.

Osteoarthritis occurs most frequently in the hands, hips and knees. Without treatment, this disease may restrict your participation in sports and daily activities with friends and family and cause long-term damage to your joints.

Data Reveal Osteoarthritis Is Higher in Females

A new analysis reveals that in recent decades, osteoarthritis has remained a major public health concern worldwide.

Based on global data from 1990 to 2019, this analysis was published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

The analysis data were collected as part of the Global Burden of Disease study by a consortium of more than 7,000 researchers in more than 156 countries and territories.

“Investigators found that globally, prevalent cases (of osteoarthritis) increased by 113.25 percent from 247.51 million in 1990 to 527.81 million in 2019,” according to the analysis.

“The disease burden of osteoarthritis is formidable,” co–senior author Jianhao Lin, MD, of Peking University People’s Hospital, in China, told Medical Xpress. “Due to population expansion, aging, and the epidemic of obesity, one would expect such a burden would increase in the near future.”

The team also assessed the rates that the population would have if it had a standard age structure or age-standardized prevalence rates (ASRs).

The study showed the ASRs of osteoarthritis increased for knee, hip and other joints but decreased for hands.

The data revealed a higher prevalence of osteoarthritis was found in countries with higher development status. Osteoarthritis was higher in females than in males and increased with age, according to the study.

The analysis also showed osteoarthritis of the hip had the highest estimated annual percentage increases in most regions. And according to the study, osteoarthritis of the knee contributed the most to the overall burden.

“Primary and secondary prevention, including refraining from overweight or obesity, preventing knee injury and avoiding heavy repeated joint-loading activities are effective measures in alleviating the burden,” Lin told Medical Xpress. “In addition, exercise therapy could delay functional loss and should be recommended as core treatment for knee osteoarthritis.”

Don’t Delay Your Joint Care

For individuals with osteoarthritis, the CDC recommends the following activities and exercises to help maintain range of motion:

  • Low-impact aerobic activities like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, light gardening, group exercise classes and dancing.
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises like lifting weights, working with resistance bands and yoga.
  • Flexibility exercises like stretching and yoga.
  • Balance exercises like walking backward, standing on one foot and tai chi.

Although exercises and activities can help relieve pain and stiffness, they may not be enough to help with your osteoarthritis. If you are experiencing joint pain, don’t delay your care. Call your orthopedist and make an appointment to help you manage your pain by creating a customized treatment plan.