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A recent government study found that millions more Americans are suffering from arthritis than previously believed.And it is not just a disease of the elderly. It can strike at any age. Fortunately, there's a lot that can be done to treat it.
Gina Poss and Connie Miller are two of the estimated 70 million Americans suffering from some form of arthritis. Gina and Connie have rheumatoid arthritis, one of the most severe forms of the disease.
Gina says it includes, "General fatigue, overwhelming fatigue."
Connie adds, "And the pain, it's not necessarily fun living around the pain lots of times.
Rheumatologist Doctor Michael Stevens says there are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and they can strike at any age.
"Some 300,000 children a year suffer from arthritis, and it can be devastating for them. So who is at risk? Probably everyone," he says.
People with a family history are more susceptible. But being overweight or sedentary also puts you at risk. So the best way to reduce your risk is to maintain a healthy weight and an active lifestyle..exercise regularly.
For those who already have arthritis, there are new medications that are more effective with fewer side effects.
"We are starting to really develop in the last five years the newest therapies that are not curing arthritis, but are rather controlling them and in some cases stopping the progression of arthritis," Dr. Stevens explains.
For Gina and Connie, the medications have made a huge difference.
"Before I had this, basically I would have trouble picking up a carton of milk without a lot of struggle," Connie says.
"It's been great," Gina adds, "Just because I get my energy back."
There is nothing inevitable about arthritis or the pain it brings. It can be avoided and it can be treated, allowing people to lead normal lives again.