Arthritics, Rejoice

New drugs are reducing pain with fewer side effects--for those who can afford them, anyway

Forty million Americans suffer from arthritis, the painful, often debilitating disease that can affect every joint in your body. Actually, it isn't just one disease. Arthritis is a whole class of illnesses that comes in more than a hundred varieties. About 20 million people in the U.S., for example, have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease in which cartilage that cushions the joints erodes, leading to painful bone-on-bone contact. And 3 million or so more have rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammation of the joints that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of function.

These numbers will rise dramatically over the...

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