Massage therapy has been found to reduce arthritis pain and increase arthritis sufferers’ strength. Arthritis costs $128 billion annually and is the most common cause of disability in the U.S.—and as the population ages, arthritis rates will grow as well.

According to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22.2 percent (49.9 million) of adults age 18 and older had self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and 9.4 percent (21.1 million, or 42.4 percent of those with arthritis) had arthritis-attributable activity limitation.

“With the aging of the U.S. population, even assuming that the prevalence of obesity and other risk factors remain unchanged, the prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation is expected to increase significantly by 2030,” the report, which reflects National Health Interview Survey data from 2007 to 2009, noted.

Among the results:

• Arthritis prevalence was significantly higher among women (24.3 percent) than among men (18.2 percent);

• Among persons who are obese, an age-adjusted 33.8 percent of women and 25.2 percent of men reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis;

• Overall, 29.6 percent of persons who are obese report arthritis, compared with normal/underweight (16.9 percent) and overweight (19.8 percent);

• Those with less than a high school diploma (21.9 percent) have higher rates of arthritis compared with those with at least some college (20.5 percent);

• 23.5 percent of physically inactive persons report arthritis, versus those meeting physical activity recommendations (18.7 percent);

• Rates of arthritis for current (23.7 percent) or former (25.4 percent) smokers is higher than that of people who have never smoked (19.0 percent).

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