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Department of Health Encourages Pennsylvanians to Take Steps to Prevent, Address Arthritis

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Health is encouraging all Pennsylvanians to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms of arthritis and the steps they can take to prevent it.

“Nearly 30 percent of Pennsylvanians have some form of arthritis, which is the leading common cause of disability in the United States,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Nearly 55 percent of all seniors age 65 and older, and nearly 33 percent of all women, have been told they have some form of arthritis. Knowing the risk factors related to arthritis and the steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing it, are essential to staying healthy and living pain-free.”

There are many different types of arthritis that can affect individuals, including osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis, which affects children. In addition, there are a number of risk factors attributed to arthritis. Some of these can be controlled, while others cannot. Your weight, joint injuries, certain infections and where you work are all controllable risk factors that can prevent arthritis from developing. Certain occupations that require heavy physical activity or repetitive motion, such as factory work, farming, and construction, may increase your risk for getting arthritis.

The risk factors you can’t control are age, gender and family history. As you age, the risk of developing arthritis increases. Additionally, women are more likely to develop arthritis than men, and if arthritis is common in your family, you are more likely to develop the condition.

“Through the Department of Aging’s Health & Wellness Programs, we are able to offer programs to help older adults in self-managing chronic conditions, including arthritis,” said Acting Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “We strongly encourage seniors experiencing arthritis symptoms to reach out to their local Area Agency on Aging to see what programs and resources are available to them.”

Arthritis can attack nearly any joint in the body. It can start in the hands, knees or shoulder and cause the joint to become sore, hard to move and possibly swollen. You might have some form of arthritis if you have:

  • Lasting joint pain;
  • Joint swelling or stiffness;
  • Warmth and redness in a joint;
  • Tenderness or pain when touching a joint; and
  • Problems using or moving a joint normally.

If you have symptoms of arthritis, it's important to see your doctor as soon as possible—don’t wait. Only a doctor can tell if you have arthritis or a related condition and can provide you with treatment information. Before suggesting treatment, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. You may also be asked to have x-rays or laboratory tests done.

More information on arthritis can be found on the Department of Health’s website at or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or

                                Rachel Wrigley, Aging, 717-783-6210

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