|This article relies on references to primary sources. (August 2007)|
|Motto||Take Control. We Can Help.|
|President & CEO||Ann M. Palmer|
|Main organ||Board of Directors|
More than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions rob 50 million (one in every five) adults and 300,000 children of living life to its fullest. The Arthritis Foundation works to educate people about this serious, progressive and potentially life-threatening disease through information and programs that improve joint health and promote pain management.
The Arthritis Foundation offers medical information, physician referrals, a drug guide, books, brochures and more resources to help make living with arthritis easier. It also publishes the award-winning lifestyle magazine, Arthritis Today. Through local offices nationwide, the Foundation sponsors exercise classes, as well as a variety of year-round events to raise funds and create awareness, from local walks and runs to dinners, galas and other affairs.
The Arthritis Foundation has been the world's largest nonprofit contributor to arthritis research since its founding in 1948, investing more than $450 million toward medical breakthroughs that have restored mobility in countless patients. In addition, the organization fights for health care policies, legislation and government-funded research to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by arthritis.
Unacceptable pain, limitations and costs
While many people mistakenly think of arthritis as an inevitable part of aging, or as nuisance aches and pains that afflict only the elderly, it actually strikes people of all ages. Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children.
Arthritis can be severe, debilitating and even fatal. Annually, the disease causes about 44 million outpatient visits, almost a million hospitalizations and more than 9,000 deaths. Nearly 21 million adults report activity limitations due to arthritis. In fact, arthritis is a more frequent cause of activity limitation than heart disease, cancer or diabetes, and more than half of all adults with diabetes or heart disease also have arthritis.
At the current rate, an estimated 67 million Americans (one in four adults) will have a form of the disease within 20 years. Moreover, arthritis and related conditions cost $128 billion annually in medical expenses, lost earnings and reduced productivity. The Arthritis Foundation maintains that the heavy toll arthritis takes is unacceptable, and that arthritis must be taken as seriously as other chronic diseases because of its devastating impact.
Research into the underlying causes of arthritis has been a high priority of the Arthritis Foundation over the past six decades. During that time, the organization has funded more than $450 million in research grants to over 2,600 scientists, resulting in better diagnostic tools, a greater understanding of the genetics involved in disease development, and the discovery of new treatments.
Through a rigorous peer review process, the Arthritis Foundation funds only the best, most promising research proposals, especially enterprising new ideas that could lead to the miracle drugs of the future and ultimately to a cure of arthritis. In the last two decades, Foundation-supported research has significantly advanced the way arthritis is treated, and has given people living with the disease a better quality of life. Today, the Foundation is funding two new patient registries, AIR and TETRAD, to help control symptoms and advance the search for a cure by analyzing and correlating biological data.
Every year, the Arthritis Foundation holds its annual Advocacy Summit, in which hundreds of arthritis advocates converge on Washington, D.C., to join in Capitol Hill meetings with lawmakers. Participants tell their stories and let Congress know that the disabling pain and cost of arthritis are unacceptable. They also urge elected officials to become a member of the Congressional Arthritis Caucus, chaired by Reps. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. The caucus serves as a bipartisan forum to aid senators and representatives in working together to address arthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation promotes advocacy issues throughout the year to help elevate the disease to a national public health priority. Tools include state-by-state arthritis prevalence data, regular issue briefs, e-advocacy opportunities, a health care reform Q&A, and sample letters and tips to raise awareness about arthritis.
Types of arthritis
While the Arthritis Foundation supports interventions for all types of arthritis and related conditions with information and other assistance, the organization concentrates on three forms of the disease:
- Osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage. It's the most common form of arthritis, affecting 27 million Americans, most over the age of 45.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a systemic autoimmune disease that affects the entire body and is characterized by the inflammation of the membrane lining the joint, causing stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling. An estimated 1.5 million Americans have RA, which attacks twice as many women as men.
- Juvenile arthritis (JA), which affects 294,000 American children and can cause joint swelling and pain, eye inflammation, activity limitations and growth problems.
The Arthritis Foundation also provides helpful information and tips about other types of arthritis, including (but not limited to):
- Lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood and kidneys. It affects at least 239,000 Americans, eight to 10 times more women than men.
- Gout, which affects an estimated 3 million Americans, causing sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness, warmth and swelling in some joints, often the big toe, and affecting more men than women.
- Fibromyalgia, an arthritis-related condition characterized by general muscular pain and fatigue that affects about 5 million Americans, more often women than men.
- Psoriatic arthritis, a type of chronic inflammatory arthritis associated with the skin condition psoriasis, affecting 2 percent of the U.S. population.
Events and programs
Events and programs run by the Arthritis Foundation help educate the public about the realities of arthritis, raise funds and awareness, and encourage people with arthritis to manage their joint pain and improve overall health. Activities include nationwide Arthritis Walks events throughout the year and Jingle Bell Runs/Walk events in the fall. In addition, the Arthritis Foundation hosts dinners, galas and specialty parties, from traditional black-tie galas and tribute dinners to wine tastings and themed parties that benefit the Foundation's efforts.
The Arthritis Foundation's Programs for Better Living empowers people with arthritis through aquatic, exercise, walking and tai chi classes that are proven to increase mobility and reduce pain, stiffness and physician visits.
Organized in 1948 as the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation, the organization's name was changed in 1964 to the Arthritis Foundation. The following year, the American Rheumatism Association (ARA) merged with the Foundation. In 1965, an additional professional society, Allied Health Professions, was established within the Foundation; its name was changed to the Arthritis Health Professions Association (AHPA) in 1980. The American Juvenile Arthritis Organization (AJAO) was established in 1981 as a membership group within the Foundation; in 1991, AJAO became a council of the Foundation. In 1986, the ARA became a separate, independent organization and now is known as the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). In 1994, the AHPA became a division of the ACR and changed its name to the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals.
The Arthritis Foundation is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., and has more than 100 local offices nationwide, spanning 10 regions.
Great Lakes Region: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia
Great West Region: Alaska, Northern California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Heartland Region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska
Mid Atlantic Region: Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia
New England Region: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Northeast Region: New Jersey, New York, Eastern Pennsylvania
Pacific Region: Arizona, Southern California, Hawaii, Nevada
South Central Region: Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas
Southeast Region: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee
Upper Midwest Region: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Florida Chapter: Florida
- Arthritis Foundation Official Website
- Arthritis Today Magazine
- Arthritis Walk
- Jingle Bell Run/Walk
- Be Joint Smart Website
- Fight Arthritis Pain Website
- Tackle Gout Website
- Arthritis Foundation YMCA Aquatic Program
Arthritis Foundation partners
- American College of Rheumatology (ACR)
- American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM)
- Bone & Joint Decade
- Childhood Arthritis & Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA)
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
- National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Research Society International (OARSI)