According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis is a general term for many conditions that affect the joints, tissues around the joint, and other connective tissues. In the United States, arthritis is the leading cause of work disability in adults. According to the 2020 Maryland Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the rate of arthritis prevalence in adults in Maryland was 23.1 percent.

There are over 100 types of arthritis. Some examples include: 

  • Osteoarthritis
    • This is the most common type of arthritis, occurring mostly in the hands, hips and knees.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • This autoimmune and inflammatory disease causes painful swelling in the affected parts of the body, mainly occurring in the joints in the hands, wrists and knees.
  • Gout
    • This painful inflammatory disease that affects one joint at a time, often affecting the big toe joint.
  • Fibromyalgia
    • This type of arthritis causes pain all over the body, and can cause sleep problems, fatigue, and emotional and mental distress.​

Risk factors for arthritis

There are many controllable risk factors for arthritis, including being overweight or obese, bacterial or viral infection, joint injury or overuse, and occupations that involve repetitive knee bending and squatting. Smoking increases a person’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and can make the disease worse. ​​​

Some uncontrollable risk factors include age, gender, and genetics.

Physical activity for people with arthritis

Participating in physical activity can improve arthritis pain, function, mood, and quality of life.

Examples of joint-friendly physical activities include:
  • Low-impact aerobic activities
    • Brisk walking, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, light gardening, group exercise classes and dancing.
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises
    • Lifting weights, working with resistance bands, and yoga.
  • Flexibility exercises
    • Stretching and yoga.
  • Balance exercises
    • Walking backwards, standing on one foot, and tai chi.

Arthritis Resources

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA): Tips For Living with Arthritis

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA): Evidence-Based Community Programs: Physical Activity Programs At a Glance

CDC Vital Signs: Arthritis

To learn more about the different types of arthritis and possible treatments, please visit the American College of Rheumatology website at:

To find a local Rheumatologist, please visit: