Arthritis: Fact or Fiction?




It’s that time of year again- the sun is shining, the weather is getting warmer, and it is National Arthritis Awareness Month!  The New York State Arthritis Program invites you to join us throughout the month of May in raising awareness about this chronic condition and implementing strategies to improve the lives of New Yorkers with arthritis.


To kick off the month’s celebration, we’ll address a few of arthritis’ most common misconceptions!

Myth #1: Arthritis is an inevitable part of aging.

With almost 24% of adult New Yorkers reporting they have arthritis, it is the most prevalent chronic condition among adults in the state- more than twice as common as the next most prevalent condition.1


Many people think that arthritis is something that just happens. However, arthritis does not need to be a given part of getting older. Moderate physical activity is a proven, nonpharmacological way to delay the onset of certain types of arthritis and manage existing arthritis symptoms for those already suffering from the condition.


Myth #2: Arthritis is just minor aches and pains.

Arthritis is often thought of as a nuisance, but, in reality, it can be a debilitating, costly disease.

  • Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in the state and in the country.
  • Adults with disability are more than three times as likely to have arthritis than those without disability (50.5% vs. 16.4%).1
  • Among adults with arthritis, 48.3% report activity limitations due to arthritis symptoms.
  • Forty-six percent (46%) of adults with arthritis experience limitations in social activities and 33.3% report limitations in the type and amount of work they can do.1
  • Approximately 30.9% report a 7-10 level of pain using a 1-10 scale where 10 is pain or aching as bad as it can be.1
  • Nationally, osteoarthritis is the leading cause of total joint replacement, responsible for 82% of all total hip replacements and 98.4% of all total knee replacements.2
  • Between medical costs and lost wages, arthritis cost $304 billion nationally in 2013.2

Myth #3: Exercising will make arthritis symptoms worse.

Many adults with arthritis incorrectly think that exercising will make the condition worse when the opposite is true! Moderate, regular physical activity, such as walking, biking, rolling, and swimming, is proven to reduce pain, tiredness, and stiffness from arthritis.  Physical activity can also improve mood, reduce stress, and increase energy levels! Take a look at this video to hear real people with arthritis talk about how physical activity has changed their lives.


Help spread the word about arthritis in your community. Check out the New York State Department of Health’s Spring Public Health Tool Kit for arthritis resources, including National Arthritis Awareness Month social media and video clips you can use to talk about arthritis in your community! 



New York State Department of Health -


1. New York State Department of Health. 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

2. Murphy, L.B., Cisternas, M.G., Pasta, D.J., Helmick, C.G., & Yelin, E.H. (2017). Medical expenditures and earnings losses among US adults with arthritis in 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2019 from

Filed Under: Health | Healthy Lifestyle