According to research, more than 50 million adults and 300,000 in the U.S. have arthritis, placing them at risk for chronic pain and disability. Arthritis is, in fact, the number one cause of disability in the U.S. and it impacts the daily activities more frequently than heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
One of the most serious forms the disease is rheumatoid arthritis. This disease causes the body's immune system to attack the thin membranes that line the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint pain and inflammation that can be systemic, which means it affects the entire body. Extreme fatigue and, over time, organ damage and immobility can result. Scientists believe both environmental and genetic factors may play a role in rheumatoid arthritis. The disease typically develops between the ages of 30 to 60, and affects women three times as often as it does men.
When arthritis develops in children 16 and younger, it's called juvenile arthritis—an umbrella term for the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that young patients suffer. The most common form is juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which is diagnosed when children or adolescents have swelling in one or more joints for at least six weeks.