Arthritis Hampers Millions On The Job

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Arthritis limits work for nearly 7 million U.S. adults, according to a new study.

That's about 30 percent of people with arthritis who are 18-64 years old, note the researchers, who included the CDC's Kristina Theis, M.P.H. Theis and colleagues analyzed data from a 2002 national health survey of more than 31,000 U.S. adults aged 18 to 64.

About 10,200 participants said they had been told by a doctor or other health professional that they have some form of arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis), gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.

Those participants were then asked if arthritis or joint symptoms now affect whether they work, the type of work they do, or the amount of work they do. Nearly 30 percent said yes.

That equals nearly 7 million people aged 18-64 nationwide, the researchers estimate.

The study has some limitations.

Participants with arthritis tended to be older, with more health problems than those without arthritis. That makes it hard to prove that their arthritis-related work limitations weren't influenced by other conditions.

Also, the researchers didn't check participants' medical records to confirm self-reported arthritis diagnoses. Finally, the study doesn't show which came first — arthritis or work limitations.

Future studies should be done to learn more about arthritis-related work limitations and to identify solutions, Theis' team notes.

The study appears in the April 15 edition of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D.
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