May is national Arthritis Month. Arthritis refers not to just one disease, but to about 120 that cause pain, swelling and limited movement in joints and connective tissue in the body. It's usually chronic, which means it lasts a lifetime.
The three most prevalent forms of arthritis and the approximate number of Americans they affect are osteoarthritis, 15.8 million; fibromyalgia, 3.7 million; and rheumatoid arthritis, 2.1 million.
Here are other facts about arthritis:
* About one in six Americans, or 43 million, has arthritis.
* It's the No. 1 cause of limitation in movement in the U.S.
* It affects people of all ages--as many as 300,000 children have it.
* Nearly two-thirds of arthritis patients are women.
* It costs the U.S. economy $64.8 billon a year in medical care and lost wages.
* About 3 million Americans face limits with everyday activities such as walking, dressing and bathing because of arthritis.
* Other forms of arthritis and related disorders include gout, lupus and scleroderma.
Source: Arthritis Foundation, (800) 954-2873, or http://www.arthritis.org.