Arthritis Among Veterans
Improve veterans' quality of life with physical activity and education.
A CDC study using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for years 2011-2013 found that arthritis is very common among veterans. While high physical fitness and good health are required for entry into military service, traumatic and overuse injuries are common during active duty. These injuries are risk factors for developing osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. To improve the quality of life of veterans, those interested in veteran health can promote affordable physical activity and self-management education classes proven to decrease the effects of arthritis and related conditions.
Overview of the study results
Among both men and women, arthritis is more common among veterans than non-veterans overall and by most categories of age and race/ethnicity.
Specifically in the veteran population, about one in three veterans (35%) have arthritis which is:
- Slightly more common for men (35%) than women (31%).
- Higher in middle-aged (45-64 years) (36%) adults compared to young (18-44 years) (13%) adults.
- Common among veterans across all 50 states and DC, representing about 1 in 6 adults with arthritis.
Improving the effects of arthritis
Fortunately, there are inexpensive proven strategies that are available to veterans in their communities to help them manage their arthritis.
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. This study found that arthritis was highest among veterans who are obese.
- Locate self-management education classes designed to teach people with arthritis and other chronic conditions how to control their symptoms and how health problems affect their lives. The classes are held in small-groups that meet once a week for 6 weeks for about 2 hours. Classes are led by people who have experience living with similar conditions.
- Locate physical activity classes tailored towards adults with arthritis that have been shown to improve function and reduce depression, disability and pain.
CDC funds 12 state programs to increase the availability of physical activity and self-management courses for people with arthritis.
Murphy, LB, Helmick CG, Allen KD, Theis KA, Baker NA, Murray GR, Qin J, Hootman JM, Brady TJ, Barbour KE. Arthritis among Veterans in United States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Morb Mort Week Rep, November 7th, 2014; 63(44):999-1003.