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10 worst states for arthritis

Arthritis can be a relentless enemy.

Some conditions that cause joint inflammation, such as lupus, may kill people quickly. In many other cases, a condition that starts out as a nuisance gradually takes over people's lives, limiting their ability to handle the activities of daily living.

Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Unum Group has estimated that joint disorders cause 7.2 percent of its short-term disability insurance claims and 9.2 percent of its long-term disability insurance claims.

The effects of arthritis on underwriting and sales vary dramatically from condition to condition and from client to client.

Gout, for example, is a form of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid in the blood. It may have no effect on some people's lifespan, but researchers in Japan reported in 2000 that it seemed to correlate with a 60 percent increase in the risk of dying in any given year.

Complications of rheumatoid arthritis, or joint inflammation caused by a wide variety of conditions, might cut some people's lifespans by about 10 to 15 years, but it has no effects on others' lifespans. Many people with the condition live into their 80s and 90s, according to the Atlanta-based Arthritis Foundation.

Osteoarthritis, or joint inflammation caused by some combination of cartilage problems, over-use of a joint, and ordinary wear and tear, may have no effect on life expectancy at all.

5 bad states for arthritis

In most states, the prevalence of arthritis among adults ages 45 to 54 — the adults who may be the most likely to have the cash and life experience to understand the importance of long-term disability insurance, long-term care insurance and other disability-related products and services — declined between 2009 and 2014.

In these states, which rank fifth through 10th in terms of arthritis prevalence in the 45-54 age group, the percentage of people touched by arthritis actually increased.

10. Mississippi

2009 prevalence: 33 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 33.9 percent.

Prevalence change: 0.9 percentage points.

9. Arkansas

2009 prevalence: 35.8 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 36.8 percent.

Prevalence change: 1 percentage point.

8. Maine

2009 prevalence: 32.3 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 33.3 percent.

Prevalence change: 1 percentage point

7. Kansas

2009 prevalence: 26.4 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 27.5 percent.

Prevalence change: 1.1 percentage points.

6. Alabama

2009 prevalence: 38.1 percent

2014 Prevalence: 39.7 percent.

Prevalence change: 01.6 percentage points.

5 terrible states for arthritis

In the states that rank fifth through 10th in terms of arthritis prevalence, the percentage of people in the 45-54 age group touched by arthritis increased by 0.9 percentage points to 1.6 percentage points between 2009 and 2014.

In the states in first to fifth place, the percentage touched by arthritis went up much faster.

The increase in some states might be partly because of the introduction of lucrative new arthritis drugs.

Fighting arthritis can be a good moneymaker for pharmaceutical companies. The London-based International Federation of Health Plans says the full cost of one popular brand-name drug for fighting rheumatoid arthritis, Humira, cost about $30,000 to $36,000 per year in the United States in 2015. Zipsor, a drug for osteoarthritis, can cost about $12,000 per year.

That kind of money could encourage drug companies to push physicians to look harder for people with arthritis. Promotional campaigns might work better in some markets than others.

But factors such as nutrition, exercise habits or other factors could also increase the odds that people in some areas will develop arthritis.

Either way: The states on this page seem to have experienced a dramatic increase in arthritis prevalence.

5. Delaware

2009 prevalence: 26.8 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 28.8 percent.

Prevalence change: 2 percentage points.

4. Massachusetts

2009 prevalence: 25.5 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 29.1 percent.

Prevalence change: 3.6 percentage points

3. Georgia

2009 prevalence: 25.5 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 29.9 percent.

Prevalence change: 4.4 percentage points.

2. West Virginia

2009 prevalence: 38 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 42.5 percent.

Prevalence change: 4.5 percentage points

1. Tennessee

2009 prevalence: 29.7 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 36.6 percent.

Prevalence change: 6.9 percentage points.

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