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Arthritis Help for Veterans

Army jacket with medalsImprove veterans quality of life with physical activity and education.

Arthritis is common among veterans. Traumatic and overuse injuries, which commonly occur during active duty, are reasons why veterans may develop arthritis. Fortunately, there are low- or no-cost physical activity programs and classes can help veterans feel better.

Arthritis among Veterans

A CDC study using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for years 2011-2013 found that about one in three veterans (35%) has arthritis. Other study findings indicate that arthritis is:

  • More common among veterans than non-veterans overall.
  • Higher in men (35%) than women (31%).
  • More widespread in middle-aged adults (45-64 years) (36%) compared to young adults (18-44 years) (13%).
  • Highest among veterans who are significantly overweight.
Army veteran

Physical activity, like walking, can help reduce arthritis pain.

Improving the effects of arthritis

There are community programs to help veterans and other adults with arthritis be healthier and live with less pain.

Veterans can:

  • Learn about your arthritis! Classes, maybe at a local YMCA, park, or community center, can teach veterans how to feel their best.
  • Go to physical activity classes that have been shown to reduce pain and disability related to arthritis, and improve movement and mood.
  • Join self-management education classes designed to teach people with arthritis and other chronic conditions how to control their symptoms and how health problems affect their lives. Classes are led by people who have experience living with arthritis.

Veterans also can do low-impact activities, such as walking, biking, swimming, and water aerobics—all good forms of exercise that are safe for most adults. Veterans also can keep weight at a healthy level to reduce the pain of arthritis, and help keep it from getting worse.

Increasing the Availability of Programs

CDC funds 12 state programs and organizations like the Y-USA to increase the availability of physical activity programs for people with arthritis.


Murphy, LB, Helmick CG, Allen KD, Theis KA, Baker NA, Murray GR, Qin J, Hootman JM, Brady TJ, Barbour KE. Arthritis among veterans in United States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Morb Mort Week Rep, November 7th, 2014; 63(44):999-1003.