Over 44 million Americans are living with arthritis, which includes over 100 different conditions. The two most common types are osteoarthritis, which affects 27 million people, and rheumatoid arthritis, which about 1.3 million people have. According to the CDC, by 2030 about 67 million people over 18 years old will have arthritis.

If you're currently coping with arthritis, you probably know that modern drugs and treatments, alternative therapies and early intervention go a long way in helping you manage and slow the progress of the condition. However, arthritis still remains the leading cause of disability. Here are 10 disabilities arthritis cause that you should be aware of:

1. Loss of hand function.
Stiffness, swelling, and pain in osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can reduce motor function or dexterity in the hand, fingers and wrist.

2. Weakness. Arthritis damages the structures surrounding the joints as well - muscles, ligaments and tendons. This makes them weak and unstable and interferes with functions such as bending or getting up (for arthritis in the hip, knee or spine), or gripping and writing (for arthritis in the hands, wrists and fingers).

3. Muscle waste. Because arthritis is painful and uncomfortable, many people with it do not exercise or get enough physical activity. This eventually causes muscles to atrophy or waste away, making joints even more unstable and contributing to pain, weakness and deformity.

4. Deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation, pain and stiffness of the joints. In OA, joints lose cartilage and other tissue. Over time, deformity can occur in both conditions.

5. Loss of mobility. When arthritis affects the weight-bearing joints - hips, knees, and feet - it can make activities such as walking, running, swimming, dancing, or other recreational or sports pursuits.

6. Problems standing. Many people with arthritis in the knees, hips, feet and spine find it difficult to stand for any length of time.

7. Vision problems. Inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (formerly juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) can lead to vision problems, such as uveitis (inflammatory eye disease), cataracts, glaucoma, corneal abrasions, and even blindness.

8. Bone loss. Osteoporosis is more likely to occur with RA than OA due to certain RA drugs such as corticosteroids, which thins bones. However, lack of weight-bearing exercises may also cause osteoporosis, and people with OA often do not get enough exercise so could be at risk. Osteoporosis increases the likelihood of fractures and falls.

9. Organ damage.
In RA inflammation can affect the blood vessels, heart, lungs, kidneys, and spleen. Several conditions can occur including damage to the heart muscle or problems breathing.

10. Nerve damage. Inflammation, and swelling and deformity of the joints, can irritate nerves and lead to nerve entrapment (for instance, carpal tunnel syndrome), which causes pain, numbness or tingling. Eventually this can cause nerve damage.

How to Lower Your Risk of Disability

  • Get diagnosed. Early intervention is critical to slowing down arthritis.
  • Follow your treatment plan. Many people with arthritis do not adhere to their doctor's recommendations for drugs or therapies, which can increase the risk of disability.
  • Stay active. Several studies show that regular exercise and physical activity significantly improve mobility and function in arthritis. Your routine should include range-of-motion, strengthening or weight-lifting, stretching, and low-impact aerobic exercises.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you notice that certain activities or other factors increase your arthritis symptoms, modify or eliminate them.
  • Use assistive devices. There are several products on the market that can help to support your joints when you have arthritis.
  • Lose weight. Research shows that being overweight or obese makes you much more likely to become disabled when you have arthritis.