The Montana Arthritis Program collaborates with sites across the state to offer evidence-based exercise  and self-management programs that have been proven to decrease pain and improve flexibility and function for people living with arthritis.

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What is Arthritis?

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines arthritis as being, "the most common cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 21 million adults."


woman walking

Arthritis can take many forms, but three of the most common diseases that make up arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, is a progressive degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage associated with risk factors, such as overweight/obesity, history of joint injury and age. Read more about osteoarthritis.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), a systemic disease characterized by the inflammation of the membranes lining the joint, which causes pain, stiffness, warmth, swelling and sometimes severe joint damage. Read more about rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Juvenile Arthritis (JA) is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger. Read more about juvenile arthritis.

What is the goal of the Montana Arthritis Program?

The Montana Arthritis Program, in collaboration with the Arthritis Foundation and the CDC Arthritis Program, is working to improve the quality of life for people affected by arthritis and other rheumatic conditions by increasing awareness about appropriate arthritis self-management activities and expanding the reach of programs proven to improve the quality of life for people with arthritis.  The mission of the Montana Arthritis Program is to increase access to, and the use of, arthritis appropriate interventions among Montanans who have reported having arthritis. 

The Montana Arthritis Program is working with sites across the state to offer the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, the Walk with Ease Program, Enhance Fitness and Stanford’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program

What is the burden of arthritis in Montana?

  • Arthritis is one of the most common chronic diseases in the U.S. affecting 26% of adults, during 2009. Montana adults reported a similar prevalence of arthritis with 28% (approximately 215,000 adults) reporting ever being diagnosed with arthritis.
  • The prevalence of arthritis has risen 12% among Montana adults going from 24% in 2001 to 28% in 2009.
  • Groups disproportionately impacted by arthritis include women, older adults, adults with lower household income, adults with less educational attainment, and overweight or obese adults.
  • Among Montana adults with arthritis, 46% report being limited in their usual activities because of joint symptoms. Thirty-one percent report that their arthritis affects whether they work, the type of work they do, or the amount of work they do. Another 37% report that their arthritis interferes with their normal social interaction. In fact, 59% of adults with arthritis report severe (7 to 10 on a ten point pain scale) or moderate pain (4 to 6) during the past 30 days.
  • Adults with arthritis have three times higher rates of CVD; more than twice the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes; and about 50% higher rates of elevated cholesterol and current asthma. Importantly, adults with arthritis are less active, reporting no leisure time physical activity significantly more frequently than adults without arthritis (28% vs. 19%).

Self-Management Education Programs


Exercise Programs