220,000 U.S. Kids Under 18 Diagnosed with Arthritis

More than 220,000 young people under the age of 18 in the U.S. have arthritis, a condition that is most common in the elderly, according to a report from the CDC.

The findings are based on an analysis of 2017-2021 data collected through the Census Bureau’s National Survey of Children’s Health. Parents of 173,406 young people provided data, weighted to reflect a representative national sample.

The pain and stiffness of arthritis stems from inflammation (swelling and tenderness) in one or more joints. Although it can affect any joint, juvenile arthritis — as it is called in young people — most often affects the knees, hands and feet. Medical experts say this can result from the immune system mistakenly attacking tissue in the joints.
The exact cause of arthritis in young people is often undetermined. But the Arthritis Foundation says no evidence exists that foods, toxins, allergies or lack of vitamins cause juvenile arthritis.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children and adolescents with arthritis increases with age, and those with arthritis are more likely to be overweight or suffer from anxiety, depression, or heart disease than those without arthritis. The CDC also reported that the number of Black children and teens with arthritis was “twice as high as that of Whites.”

Treatment for juvenile arthritis may be twofold: medications to combat inflammation and treat stiffness and pain, along with physical therapy to improve movement, endurance and muscle strength.

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In a similar report focusing on adults and based on data from 2019 to 2021, the CDC found that more than 21 percent of U.S. adults — about 53 million people, more women than men — have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis, with the toll rising to roughly half of those 65 and older with another chronic disease.

This article is part of The Post’s “Big Number” series, which takes a brief look at the statistical aspect of health issues. Additional information and relevant research are available through the hyperlinks.