A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that adults with arthritis are injured in falls at a rate 2.5 times higher than for those without the disease. As such, the CDC described this “growing health problem” as one that can best be addressed through a fall prevention approach that involves physical therapy or exercise, according to a news release from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The findings were based on an analysis of falls and falls injury from the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

The BRFSS is a phone survey that interviewed 338,734 adults in all states, territories, and the District of Columbia. Survey respondents were asked whether they have been told that they have some form of arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia; whether and how many times they had fallen in the past year; and whether those falls caused an injury, as indicated on the APTA news release. The results of the study showed that in almost all cases, rates of falls and falls injuries were notably higher among adults 45 years and older with arthritis than those without.

The results also showed that 13.3% of adults with arthritis report fall injury compared with a 6.5% rate of injury on adults without arthritis. When adjusted for age, the fall prevalence rate in 46 states was 30% or greater among adults with arthritis, with 16 states having an age-adjusted rate of 40% or higher for this group. In addition, among adults without arthritis, no state had a fall rate higher than 30%.

The report, titled “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly  Report,” notes, “The projected rapid growth in the population aged [65 years and older] and the increase in adults with arthritis (an estimated 67 million by 2030) … demonstrate the need for increasing fall prevention efforts. Effective fall preventions can be multifaceted, but the most effective single strategy involves exercise or physical therapy to improve gait, balance, and lower body strength, which have been shown to reduce fall risk by 14%-37%.”

[Source: APTA]