Albany -- Arthritis and chronic joint problems are far more widespread than once thought. Joint problems affect one in every three adults, and Southwest Georgia Doctors say that number is growing.
66 year old JoAnn Pope is getting ready to compete in the World Championship Triathlon in Mexico, if her knee is up to it. Pope is seeing Sports Medicine specialist Dr. Scott McGee because of knee problems.
The Centers for Disease Control says they are shocked by the growing numbers of people like JoAnn, who are suffering from arthritis and chronic joint problems. Dr. McGee said "I see it as a huge problem."
Dr. McGee says so many Southwest Georgians have joint problems, because they are overweight. "To see the degree of obesity and lack of physical conditioning in the average person in America, and it's just getting worse and worse."
Pope runs, bikes, and swims dozens of miles every week. Dr. McGee says staying active is one of the best ways to prevent arthritis and joint problems. Dr. McGee said "People that maintain an activity level throughout life have in general less arthritis. People I'm replacing joints in Albany are not high level athletes, they are 200 to 300 pound sedentary people."
JoAnn Pope's knees are feeling much better, and she will compete in the triathlon next week. But health officials are worried many Southwest Georgians arthritis problems might keep them from an active lifestyle.
Doctors say the numbers with arthritis, and the related health care costs, will continue to rise as the baby boom generation ages.