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Arthritis pain cramping your style?

Ailment is more debilitating than expected, CDC says. Here are steps that can help

Published: November 14, 2013 11:45 AM

Creaky knee or achy hip hampering your style? Good chance it's arthritis. Far more people than previously known say that the condition is keeping them from doing what they want and need to do, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 53 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with arthritis, and 23 million of them say their condition limits their daily activities, according to the CDC’S National Health Interview Survey of Americans. And arthritis, in all its forms, is now the most common cause of disability among U.S. adults. And the numbers are likely to increase by about a third by 2030, as the population ages.

There’s no known cure for arthritis, short of a knee or hip replacement for people with advanced disease. See our surgery Ratings for hip and knee replacement. But it's possible to delay or prevent the need for surgery, even if you already have symptoms.  

Medical treatments and injections of steroids offer limited benefits and can cause side effects. Read about our recommended Best Buy Drugs for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

It makes sense to rely on nondrug measures when you can. Despite mixed evidence and a lack of support from major health groups about the role of the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin in treating osteoarthritis, some people think they help. Read the facts about joint supplements.

Appropriate levels of physical activity can help improve function. Strength training helps build up the muscles that support the affected joint. Aerobic exercise, particularly weight-bearing activities such as walking, can ease stiffness by keeping joints flexible and lubricated. But check with your doctor before starting any new workout regimen. See our Ratings and reviews of ellipticals, treadmills, and pedometers.

And remember, every pound of excess weight you shed can take about 4 pounds of pressure off the knees when walking, research suggests. See our Ratings and reviews of diet plans.

—Doug Podolsky


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