Arthritis is the nation's leading cause of disability.

And a new survey finds that a third of adult sufferers say the condition limits their ability to work.

The survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was released Thursday, found that 33 percent of U.S. workers with arthritis suffered work limitations in 2003, the latest data available.

The CDC study is the first to provide a state-by-state breakdown on the impact of arthritis in the workplace.

"It's not just an aging problem, but it's a problem that hits people of all ages and adults. It changes people's lives dramatically and for decades," said Dr. Steven Abramson, director of rheumatology of New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases, who was not involved in the study.

In Kentucky, slightly more than half of arthritis sufferers reported work limitations. Nevada had the lowest percentage, with about a fourth of its adults saying their work was limited.

Arthritis affects an estimated 46 million U.S. adults. Symptoms include pain, aching, stiffness and swelling in or around the joints. Some forms of arthritis, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can affect multiple organs, the CDC said.

Overall, nearly 7 percent of all working adults in U.S. states experienced arthritis-related workplace limitations. Kentucky had the highest percentage of workers, 15 percent, with such limitations, followed by about 3 percent of workers in Hawaii, the CDC study said.

The study relied on a random sample telephone survey in which health officials asked workers whether they had ever been told by a doctor they had arthritis or a related condition. Then they were asked if arthritis or joint symptoms affected their ability to work and the type of work they could do.

A CDC study released in January said that the nation's cost for arthritis and related conditions was $128 billion in 2003, including roughly $81 billion in direct costs such as medical expenses and $47 billion in indirect costs, such as lost wages.

The Associated Press contributed to this report