Arthritis: The Nation’s Leading Cause of Disability

Arthritis and related conditions have affected nearly 43 million Americans in 1998. By the year 2020, as the baby boom generation ages, an estimated 60 million people will have arthritis. Besides the physical toll, arthritis costs the country nearly $65 billion annually. Arthritis is second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability and although cost-effective interventions are available to reduce the burden of arthritis, they are currently underused.

In November 1998, the first comprehensive public health approach to reducing the burden of arthritis in the United States was released by the Arthritis Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. The National Arthritis Action Plan: A Public Health Strategy proposes strategies in three major areas:

? surveillance, epidemiology, and prevention research

? communication and education

? programs, policies, and systems.

An important goal is to get public health, arthritis, and other interested organizations working together at the national, state, and local levels.

Developed with the input of more than 80 other public and private organizations, the National Arthritis Action Plan: A Public Health Strategy shifts the traditional emphasis on treating individuals with arthritis to a public health approach that emphasizes

? preventing arthritis

? identifying arthritis at its earliest stage and initiating prompt, appropriate management

? reducing the consequences of arthritis once it has developed.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control

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