arthritis facts

Arthritis Facts


Get to know arthritis by the numbers. You’ll be surprised. Arthritis is all around us, yet its impact on individuals, their families, employers and the country is far greater, more serious and costlier than most people realize. View or download our Arthritis by the Numbers book with over 200 carefully researched facts about arthritis.

Arthritis Prevalence

  • More than 50 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

That’s 1 in 4 people over age 18.

  • Almost 300,000 babies and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.

That’s 1 in 250 children.

  • The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 31 million Americans.
  • Number of people expected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by the year 2040: more than 78 million.

Arthritis Disability

Arthritis is the nation’s No. 1 cause of disability.

Economic Cost of Arthritis

Employment Impact

Almost two-thirds of adults in the U.S. with arthritis are of working age (18-64 years).

One-third of working-age people with arthritis have limitations in their ability to work, the type of work they can do or whether they can work part time or full time.  

People with arthritis or a rheumatic condition lose more workdays every year due to illness or injury than adults with any other medical condition.

People with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis –just two kinds of arthritis – miss a combined of 172 million workdays every year.

Economic Impact

Arthritis and other non-traumatic joint disorders are among the five most costly conditions among adults 18 and older.

Every year, people with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions give up potential income (called “lost wages”) due to injury or illness.

Arthritis and related conditions account for

  • More than $156 billion annually in lost wages and medical expenses

  • More than 100 million outpatient visits

  • An estimated 6.7 million hospitalizations

  • In 2011 there were 757,000 knee replacements and 512,000 hip replacements


Arthritis is much more common among people who have other chronic conditions.

  • 49 percent of adults with heart disease have arthritis.

  • 47 percent of adults with diabetes have arthritis.

  • 44 percent of adults with high blood pressure have arthritis.

  • 31 percent of adults who are obese have arthritis.

One-third of adults with arthritis age 45 and older have either anxiety or depression.

People who have arthritis and other chronic health condition have trouble getting enough physical activity to improve their health.

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is an important strategy for relieving pain and maintaining or improving function for people with arthritis.

Despite that, people with arthritis are less likely to be physically active than those without arthritis.

Nearly half of adults with arthritis report no leisure-time physical activity.  Not being physically active is bad for arthritis, is a risk factor for other chronic diseases and interferes with management of other conditions.

Life Impact

Among adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis, many report significant functional limitations such as:

  • Walking ¼ mile – about one in six
  • Grasping – about one in 22
  • Climbing stairs – about one in nine

All Ages, Races and Genders

People commonly think of arthritis as an old people’s problem. But arthritis is not a disease of old age.

  • Infants, as young as 1 year old, can get a potentially serious disease called systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

  • Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under age 65, including an estimated 300,000 children.

  • But the risk of arthritis does increase with age. Almost half of adults 65 years old or older have arthritis.

Doctor-diagnosed arthritis is more common in women (26 percent) than in men (18 percent). In some types, such as rheumatoid arthritis, women far outnumber men.

Arthritis has a greater impact on minorities. Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities populations in the U.S. have lower rates of arthritis compared to white population. However, they experience greater severity of pain and more work and daily activity limitations than whites.

View even more arthritis facts by downloading our Arthritis by the Numbers book.

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