ATLANTA (Reuters) – The number of older Americans suffering from arthritis is expected to nearly double in about 25 years as millions of baby boomers head into retirement, federal officials reported on Thursday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news – web sites) said current data indicated that 41.1 million people age 65 and older would suffer from arthritis or chronic joint symptoms by 2030, compared to an estimated 21.4 million in 2005.
CDC officials said the trend largely reflected the graying of the nation. The percentage of the U.S. population that will be 65 and older is expected to grow to 20 percent in 2030 from 12.9 percent in 2005.
Arthritis, a musculoskeletal disease that causes painful inflammation in the joints, is the leading cause of disability in the United States and a major financial drain on the nation’s health care system.
An estimated 70 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with the disease or suffer from its symptoms.
“It is going to be an even bigger problem and there are going to be more demands on the public and the health care system,” said Dr. Chad Helmick, a CDC arthritis expert.
“It makes sense for us to invest now in managing and controlling this disease,” said Helmick, who noted that rising obesity and physical inactivity among Americans were helping fuel the growing arthritis problem.
Health experts believe that a combination of proper diet, weight control, exercise and regular medical treatment are effective in controlling both the prevalence and severity of arthritis.
The CDC based its arthritis projections on data collected in 2001 through a random telephone survey in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories.