KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A huge and growing number of Americans live day in and day out with painful, stiff joints, and it isn't just older folks who have arthritis.
When you look at Brooke Perry, the words "fit" and "active" come to mind, not the word "arthritic".
"People are usually really shocked," said Perry.
They're shocked when they learn the 26-year-old has had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis for 19 years.
"I have pretty stiff joints, so sometimes it takes me a while to get moving," she said.
A recent government report finds a growing number of adults has some form of arthritis. One in 11 adults under age 45, and close to one in four adults overall are affected.
A specialist with the Center for Rheumatic Disease points to the aging of America, but our obesity epidemic is also a big factor with osteoarthritis which is the most common form.
"So for every one pound that you weigh, it's three pounds of pressure on your weight-bearing joints. So that includes hips, knees, feet. I also include lower back," said Dr. Mike Smith.
Dr. Smith said controlling your weight is a good way to lower your chances of osteoarthritis. Doctors now know that exercise is great treatment. It strengthens muscles.
"The quads, being those muscles between your knees and your hips can be very vital in minimizing at least the pain and discomfort from knee and hip degeneration," said Dr. Smith.
And with inflammatory types of arthritis such as Perry has, "The more active you are, the better it actually gets," said Dr. Smith.
"I definitely feel better after I exercise," Perry said.
With that and medication, Perry isn't letting arthritis slow her down.
The Arthritis Foundation is holding a free "Arthritis 101" class on Saturday, August 13. For more, go to this link.