Introduction: Our objectives were to review the prevalence and impact of arthritis in women and to present information regarding strategies for prevention of arthritis in women.
Discussion: Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States and the most prevalent chronic condition in women. In addition, arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability and limitations in activities of daily living, and its economic, psychological, and social impact is enormous. Some of the effects of arthritis, such as medical care costs and lost wages, are easily translated into economic terms, but others, such as the inability to play sports, a reduction in housekeeping activities, or pain, are not.
Conclusions: Although arthritis is the most frequent and disabling chronic condition among women, its public health importance has not been previously emphasized. Public health agencies and health care providers should consider the following strategies to reduce the impact of arthritis among women: (1) promote primary prevention of arthritis through weight reduction and the reduction of sports- or occupational-related joint injury and (2) encourage the early detection and appropriate management of arthritis in women through use of medical and physical therapy, exercise, and established educational programs.