46 million Americans report that a doctor told them they have arthritis or other rheumatic conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 19 million adults.

Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis, including self-management activities, can help people with arthritis decrease pain, improve function, stay productive, and lower health care costs. The CDC recommends the key self-management activities. Visit for more information about managing your arthritis.
  • Develop Your Skills—Learning techniques to reduce pain and limitations can be beneficial to people with arthritis. Self-management education, such as the Arthritis Foundation Self Help Program(AFSHP), or the Chronic Disease Self Management Program(CDSMP) help you develop the skills and confidence to manage your arthritis on a day to day basis. For example, AFSHP has been shown to reduce pain even 4 years after participating in the program.

  • Be Active—Research has shown that physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 3 days a week. You can get activity in 10-minute intervals. Read about the physical activity programs the CDC recommends for people with arthritis.

  • Watch Your Weight—The prevalence of arthritis increases with increasing weight. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. A loss of just 11 pounds can decrease the occurrence (incidence) of new knee osteoarthritis.

  • See Your Doctor—Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management is important, especially for inflammatory types of arthritis. For example, early use of disease-modifying drugs can affect the course of rheumatoid arthritis. If you have symptoms of arthritis, see your doctor and begin appropriate management of your condition.

  • Protect Your Joints—Joint injury can lead to osteoarthritis. People who experience sports or occupational injuries or have jobs with repetitive motions like repeated knee bending have more osteoarthritis. Avoid joint injury to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis.