Posted June 5, 2015

THURSDAY, June 4, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Having arthritis and other chronic health conditions can often harm a person’s social life and ability to work, a new study finds.

About one in seven American adults has arthritis and at least one other chronic health problem, according to the study authors.

The researchers found that having a number of chronic health conditions was linked to work disability, significant mental distress, and limitations on social activities. The negative effects were even greater if one of the chronic conditions was arthritis.

Among adults with one chronic condition, those with arthritis were much more likely than those without arthritis to have work disability (16 percent versus 9 percent), according to Jin Qin and colleagues at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Social activities were also more difficult for people with arthritis, the findings showed. Nearly 4 percent with arthritis said they had trouble participating in social activities compared to 2 percent who didn’t have arthritis.

In adults with two or more chronic conditions, those with arthritis were more likely than those without arthritis to have work disability (31 percent versus 22.5 percent), according to the 2013 national data.

In addition, among people with two or more conditions, those with arthritis also had more difficulty taking part in social activities (10 percent versus 6 percent), the study found. And, those with arthritis were more likely to have significant mental distress (10 percent versus 7 percent).

There are a number of inexpensive and proven methods that can benefit adults with arthritis and/or other chronic conditions, the researchers said in a CDC news release.

These approaches include increased physical activity and participation in self-management programs. These methods may ease pain and disability, improve physical function and mental health, and reduce the negative effects of other chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

The study is published in the June 4 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

— Robert Preidt

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