The word arthritis actually means "joint inflammation" and is a general term used to refer to joint pain or joint disease. It is not a single disease, but is a term used to refer to more than 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, muscles, ligaments, cartilage and tendons. These diseases are characterized by pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints. The severity of the diseases range from relatively mild forms such as tendinitis and bursitis to crippling system forms such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, pain syndromes like fibromyalgia and other disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus that involve every part of the body. Other forms of the disease, such as gout, are almost never thought of as arthritis while osteoarthritis is often thought to be the only form of this disease.

Symptoms of Arthritis - CDC

The onset of arthritis symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly and may come and go, or persist over time. Symptoms of arthritis vary depending on the specific form of the disease; however all have some or all of the following:

  • Pain and stiffness in and around more than one joint
  • Swelling in one or more joints
  • Constant or recurring pain or tenderness in a joint
  • Difficulty using or moving a joint normally
  • Warmth and redness in a joint

The Most Common Forms of Arthritis - CDC

The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis followed by gout, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Osteoarthritis also known as degenerative joint disease results when the cartilage that cushions the joints breaks down due to age or overuse. Symptoms typically include stiffness, pain and loss of movement and most often appear in the hands and weight bearing joints such as the knee, hip and the spine.
  • Gout is a painful, episodic, recurrent and sometimes chronic and disabling form of arthritis. Symptoms typically include intense episodes of painful swelling in single joints, most often in the feet and especially the big toe caused by too much uric acid in the body.
  • Fibromyalgia is a chronic widespread disease of unknown cause characterized by muscular pain, fatigue, and tenderness in areas such as the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms and legs.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the joints and in some cases other parts of the body such as the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood and nerves. It is characterized by flares and remissions and most commonly affects the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling in multiple joints, morning stiffness and general fatigue. The pain usually affects the same joint on each side of the body , for example if one knee or hand is affected the other one is also affected. As the disease progresses severe joint changes such as deviations and angling of fingers, toes, knees and wrists may result.

Who Gets Arthritis? - CDC

  • People from all racial and ethnic groups
  • People of all ages
    • more common among adults 65 and older
    • younger people including children
    • Almost 2/3 of people with arthritis are younger than 65
  • More women than men
    • 60% of people with arthritis are women
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • People who have injuries to their joints
  • People who work in occupations requiring repetitive knee bending and squatting

What is the Public Health Impact of Arthritis?


  • It is the most common chronic disease in the US
  • Arthritis affects an estimated 52 million (1 in 5) adults in the US
    • Estimates are expected to soar, reaching 67 million by 2030
  • It is the leading cause of disability in the US
    • Almost 23 million Americans have activity limitations due to arthritis

South Carolina - PDF

  • SC has the 6th highest rate of arthritis in the nation
  • Over 1 million South Carolinians have arthritis
  • 36% of South Carolina adults with arthritis have severe joint pain
  • 45% of South Carolina working age adults have some work limitations due to arthritis
  • 50.5% of people with diabetes in SC also have arthritis
  • 60% of people with cardiovascular disease in SC also have arthritis

What is the Purpose of the Arthritis Program is SC?

  • Increase public awareness of arthritis as the leading cause of disability
  • Promote early diagnosis and appropriate management for people with arthritis
  • Minimize preventable pain and disability due to arthritis
  • Support people with arthritis in developing and accessing the resources they need to cope with the disease

2013 BRFSS