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Wisconsin Arthritis Program

Arthritis is one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States and the world. In Wisconsin there are about 1.1 million adults (26%) who report having arthritis. Currently one in five adults in the United States report having arthritis.

Although arthritis is a leading cause of disability, there is hope: Effective treatments and programs are readily available. The Wisconsin Arthritis Program is dedicated to improving the health of people with arthritis and reducing complications for those with arthritis. Forming and and maintaining partnerships is essential for these tasks.

The Wisconsin Arthritis Program uses a state public health approach to reach persons with arthritis by:

  • Promoting and assisting people with arthritis to participate in self-care programs.
  • Assisting communities with community health communication campaigns.
  • Describing Wisconsin's burden of arthritis using accurate information.
  • Coordinating and expanding arthritis-related activities with the Wisconsin Arthritis Action Council.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded funds to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to establish an Arthritis Program. Wisconsin is one of 12 states with arthritis programs.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States and the world. Currently about one in five U.S. adults report having arthritis. In the future many more people will develop arthritis as the population ages. (1,2)

Arthritis means "joint inflammation," based on the Greek words "arthron" for joint and "itis" for inflammation. Arthritis is a chronic condition that affects joints, surrounding muscles, tendons, and tissues. The condition may cause pain, discomfort, stiffness and swelling, not only in the joints, but in the surrounding muscles, tendons, and bones.

Arthritis comprises more than 100 disease types and rheumatic conditions. The 100 types of arthritis refer to many different conditions associated with joints, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, gout, bursitis, Lyme disease, carpal tunnel disease, and other conditions. (1,2)

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common arthritis type. OA is a degenerative joint cartilage condition that often affects the hands, hips, knees, and spine. Some types of arthritis are associated with abnormal immune responses in the body; an example is rheumatoid arthritis. Although most causes of arthritis are unknown, effective treatments and strategies are readily available.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation - United States, 2000-2005. Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report (MMWR); 2006; 55:1089.
  2. Arthritis Foundation, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Arthritis Plan: A Public Health Strategy. Atlanta, GA. Arthritis Foundation, 1999.
Last revised April 13, 2023