About Arthritis - Minnesota Department of Health

About Arthritis

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition which causes swelling of the joints or connective tissue, which can lead to pain or physical limitations. It is the most common cause of disability in the US, and can affect people of any age, gender, or race.


There are over 100 types of arthritis, but common symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion

Symptoms can range from mild, moderate to severe. They may come and go, persist, or worsen over time. Learn more about the different types of arthritis, like juvenile arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment and management

If you are diagnosed with arthritis, your doctor may recommend the following as a part of your treatment plan:

  • Medication: Medication can help slow the progression and ease symptoms of arthritis. Your doctor might recommend medication to help manage your pain, slow the progression of your arthritis, and ease symptoms.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy may include exercises to increase range of motion and strengthen muscles.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery to repair, replace, or fuse the joint may be required.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Physical activity and other lifestyle behaviors can help manage arthritis.

Lifestyle and arthritis

There are many resources and programs that can help you feel better and manage symptoms.  

  • Self-Management Education – These educational programs can help you gain skills and knowledge to better manage your symptoms and improve quality of life.
  • Physical Activity – Staying active with arthritis can help alleviate pain. Try low impact activities, like walking, swimming, or biking. 
  • Diet – Eat anti-inflammatory foods like fish, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Symptom Tracking – Keep track of how you are feeling, so you can talk to your doctor about any changes in your symptoms. 
Use the Arthritis Foundation Resource Finder to find a doctor, fitness class, or self-management education course near you.


Nationwide, over 50 million adults reported having been diagnosed with arthritis.1 In Minnesota, 19.7% of adults have arthritis.2 That's 1 in every 5 adults in the state.

Learn more about arthritis prevalence across the state: Arthritis in Minnesota Fact Sheet (PDF).

Risk Factors

Certain risk factors may put you at higher risk of developing arthritis.

  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Infection
  • Joint injuries or overuse
  • Smoking

Additional risk factors include age, sex, and family history. The likelihood of developing most types of arthritis increases with age, and women are more likely to develop arthritis than men. You also may be more likely to develop arthritis if your parents or siblings have it. Learn more about arthritis risk factors from the CDC.

Many of these risk factors can be minimized to lower your risk of developing arthritis by changing behavior.

Working towards maintaining a healthy weight through healthy eating and physical activity can help lessen this risk, or prevent arthritis symptoms from getting worse. Quitting smoking can also help reduce risk.


1 2013-2015 National Health Interview Survey. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/national-statistics.html

2 CDC Chronic Disease Indicators: Arthritis. 2016. https://nccd.cdc.gov/cdi/rdPage.aspx?rdReport=DPH_CDI.ExploreByTopic&islTopic=ART&islYear=9999&go=GO

Updated Friday, 10-May-2019 16:14:24 CDT