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Elements of Arthritis

Did you know the term arthritis comes from the Greek “arthro” meaning joint and the Latin “itis” meaning inflammation? There are two main types of arthritis: inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis. Inflammatory arthritis is a group of autoimmune disorders where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. The most common form of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis1 and it occurs when there is damage in and around the joints which the body cannot repair. This damage can be triggered by previous joint injury or other factors.

In 2008, 4.3 million Canadians aged 12 or older were diagnosed with arthritis.2 This means that approximately one in six adult Canadians are living with arthritis. By 2036, this number is expected to grow to an estimated 7.5 million Canadian adults (one in five).3 The impact of arthritis on the Canadian economy in health-care costs and lost productivity is estimated to be $33 billion each year. Long-term disability accounted for almost 80% of the economic costs of arthritis in 1998, at nearly $3.4 billion; the 35-64 year age group incurred 70% of these costs.4 By 2031, the economic impact of these health-care costs and lost productivity is expected to more than double to over $67 billion.

What can you do to reduce your risk and/or symptoms of arthritis?

Increase your Omega-3 intake. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. One study suggests that people with RA who take fish oil may be able to lower their dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).5

Control your weight. Being overweight or obese can take a real toll on your knees, which have to support your body weight.

Exercise regularly. Regular activity will help to strengthen the muscles around the joints, which protects them from wear and tear. As an added benefit, exercise will help you control your weight and is great for stress management.

Pay attention to ergonomics. Using the right techniques when sitting, working, and lifting can help protect joints from everyday strains and reduce risk of injury.



1. Public Health Agency of Canada, Life with Arthritis in Canada: A Personal and Public Health Challenge (Ottawa: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2010), 17.

2. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-229-x/2009001/status/art-eng.htm

3. Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit (ACREU): Arthritis in Canada (Prepared for The Arthritis Society, 2013)

4. http://www.acreu.ca/pdf/Arthritis_in_Canada.pdf

5. Bahadori B, Uitz E, Thonhofer R, et al. omega-3 Fatty acids infusions as adjuvant therapy in rheumatoid arthritis. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2010;34(2):151-5.