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Arthritis Prevalence and Statistics

Assessing the Burden of Arthritis


Updated May 22, 2014

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UPDATE (November 9, 2013): Prevalence statistics have been provided by the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 52.5 million U.S. adults have some type of self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis. About 10% of all U.S. adults have arthritis-attributable activity limitations. Read more...

Arthritis Prevalence Is Increasing

Generally-speaking, the prevalence of arthritis in the United States has increased, and it will continue to climb as the baby boomer generation ages. Since arthritis is the most common cause of disability in America, analysts are trying to gain perspective on "the looming disease burden and its impact on our nation's health care and public health systems" by estimating disease prevalence.

Sounds serious when you string together words like prevalence, burden, and impact, but actually "prevalence" just refers to the number of people affected by any type of arthritis. Simply put -- how common it is.

Who Compiles the Data?

The National Arthritis Data Workgroup provides a single source of national data for various rheumatic conditions. The workgroup is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Rheumatology, and the Arthritis Foundation. Experts use the data -- derived from census reports, national surveys, and community-based studies -- to define:

  • disease prevalence
  • potential impact of disease
  • disease rates, populations, and social implications

Burden of Arthritis and Its Future Impact

The National Arthritis Data Workgroup revealed information about the burden of arthritis in 2005 and its expected future burden.


  • More than 22% of American adults (over 52 million people) have arthritis or another rheumatic condition diagnosed by a doctor.
  • Nearly two-thirds of arthritis patients are under 65 years old.
  • More than 60% of arthritis patients are women.
  • Disease rates are similar for whites and African-Americans; these rates are higher than those for Hispanic people.
  • By 2030, the number of people with arthritis is expected to rise to 67 million.


  • Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Nearly 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis, and that represents an increase from 21 million in 1990.
  • As age increases, osteoarthritis prevalence affects the hands and knees of women more frequently than men.
  • As age increases, osteoarthritis prevalence affects the hands and knees of African-Americans more frequently than whites.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1.3 million adults -- down from 2.1 million in 1990.
  • The drop in prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis is attributed to more restrictive classification criteria but also due to a genuine drop in prevalence.
  • The average age for being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis has steadily increased (from 63.3 to 66.8 years old), suggesting rheumatoid arthritis is becoming a disease of older adults.


  • In 2005, about 3 million Americans had gout within the previous 12 months compared to 2.1 million in 1990.
  • Gout tends to be more prevalent in older men.
  • Gout tends to be more prevalent in older African-American males than in older white or older Hispanic males.

Juvenile Arthritis

  • It is estimated that 294,000 children between infancy and 17 years old are affected by arthritis or other rheumatic conditions (juvenile arthritis).

Other Prevalence Statistics

  • Spondyloarthropathies, including psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, affect 639,000 to 2,417,000 adults age 25 and older, according to current estimates.
  • Lupus has an estimated prevalence of 53.6 per 100,000 adults and 100 per 100,000 adult women.
  • Researchers estimate that 5 million people are affected by fibromyalgia.


Arthritis-Related Statistics. CDC. March 17, 2014.

Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States: Part I. Arthritis & Rheumatism. January 2008

Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States: Part II. Arthritis & Rheumatism. January 2008.

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