Arthritis Cases Skyrocket as №1 Remedy is Often Ignored

Painkillers and supplements are tempting go-to treatments, despite health risks and sketchy effectiveness

Robert Roy Britt
5 min readSep 12, 2022

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Image: Pexels/Towfiqu Barbhuiya

More than 70% of Americans 50 and older say they have joint pain, according to a new survey, and 80% of them believe arthritis and joint pain are a normal part of aging. This perception, while it holds a grain of truth, obscures a rapidly growing reality: More and more people here and around the globe ignore the №1 recommended preventive measure for arthritis: physical activity.

The need to deal with joint pain is urgent. Global cases of osteoarthritis, sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis and the most common form of the condition, have more than doubled in the past three decades, according to a separate study published earlier this year.

While 64% of the older Americans with arthritis or joint pain say they use exercise to mitigate their pain, and 80% of them rated their exercise as helpful, more than a third of sufferers don’t exercise. Many turn to other less helpful approaches that come with potentially serious side effects.

From the new national survey of 2,277 U.S. adults, conducted by the University of Michigan:

Credit: University of Michigan

“There are sizable risks associated with many of these treatment options, especially when taken long-term or in combination with other drugs,” said one of the co-authors of the survey report, Beth Wallace, MD, a clinical rheumatologist and assistant professor in internal medicine at the University of Michigan. “Yet 60% of those taking two or more substances for their joint pain said their health care provider hadn’t talked with them about risks, or they couldn’t recall if they had. And 26% of those taking oral steroids hadn’t talked with a provider about the special risks these drugs bring.”

Even ibuprofen and acetaminophen, common over-the-counter pain relievers, have side effects, including an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and heart attack, especially if taken frequently or in high doses. Ibuprofen has also been shown to alter a…

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Robert Roy Britt

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB