Myths About Arthritis

Patient Expert

Although arthritis is a common disease, there are several common misconceptions that I will try to clear up in this blog.

#1 Rheumatoid Arthritis mainly affects the elderly.

  • Approximately 2.1 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Approximately 300,000 children in the U.S. have some form of arthritis. The most common of these is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

  • Women are affected approximately 3:1 over men, and girls with JRA are affected about twice as often as boys.

  • Adults usually experience the onset of RA between the ages of 30 and 50.

#2 Arthritis is just aches and pains that will go away with OTC medications.

  • Unlike some other common forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which causes the immune system to attack the synovial lining of the joints, creating inflammation.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause inflammation of other internal organs, such as the lining of the heart and lungs, tear glands and salivary glands and eye inflammation.

  • Other common symptoms of RA include fever, fatigue, muscle and tendon pain, rheumatoid nodules (or lumps under the skin), loss of appetite, depression, weight loss and anemia.

  • There are many more treatment options today from drugs that reduce pain and inflammation on a short term basis to disease modifying drugs that slow joint destruction over a longer period of time. Biologic response modifiers (immunosuppressants) are also used to modify the immune system in order to suppress inflammation and stop disease progression.

#3 Arthritis is just a minor annoyance that will go away.

  • Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are the most common chronic health conditions in the U.S. for people over the age of 15.

  • Although it does become more common in the elderly, it is a major cause of work disability in people under 65. Two out of three Americans with arthritis are under the age of 65.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 1997, the national direct costs of arthritis (costs due to medical expenditures) were $51.1 billion, and national indirect costs (costs due to lost earnings) were $35.1 billion.

  • The CDC estimates that these costs will increase due to the aging of the population, and the increase in expensive treatment interventions such as joint replacement surgery and the use of expensive biotech drugs such as COX-2 inhibitors and biologic response modifiers.