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Arthritis statistics 2021

Nearly a quarter of American adults have arthritis. See arthritis stats by age, sex, and race to find out if you're at risk.

What is arthritis? | How common is arthritis? | Arthritis stats by type | Arthritis stats by age | Arthritis stats by race/ethnicity | Arthritis stats by sex | Common complications | Costs | Causes | Prevention | Treatment | FAQs | Research

People who have arthritis will know how difficult and painful it can make daily life. Many people associate arthritis with aging, but it’s a condition that affects both children and adults all over the world. Let’s take a look at some arthritis statistics to better understand what this chronic condition is, who it affects, how to prevent it, and how it can be treated. 

What is arthritis?

Arthritis, or joint disease, is inflammation of one or more of the joints, such as the knees, knuckles, wrists, or ankles. Arthritis starts as joint inflammation but can progress into joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis that someone can be diagnosed with, but the two most common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Arthritis is typically diagnosed after a series of physical exams, blood tests, and X-rays. Doctors will look for physical symptoms of arthritis and then run tests to determine what kind of arthritis someone has. X-rays can diagnose osteoarthritis and check for abnormalities like bone spurs, while blood tests can check for antibodies that indicate other kinds of arthritis. 

How common is arthritis?

  • More than 350 million people have arthritis globally (Global RA Network, 2021).
  • In the United States, 1 in 4 adults has arthritis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). 
  • It’s estimated that by 2040, 78 million U.S. adults will have arthritis (Arthritis & Rheumatology, 2016). 

Arthritis statistics by type

  • Up to 3% of the global population has psoriatic arthritis (National Psoriasis Foundation, 2020).
  • Fibromyalgia affects 4 million U.S. adults (CDC, 2020). 
  • More than 1 million Americans have lupus (Lupus Foundation of America, 2016). 

Osteoarthritis statistics

  • Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the United States (Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 2010). 
  • More than 32.5 million U.S. adults have osteoarthritis (CDC, 2020). 
  • 62% of people with osteoarthritis are women (Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, 2021). 
  • More than 22% of adults around the world who are older than 40 have knee osteoarthritis (EClinicalMedicine, 2020). 
  • More than 14 million Americans have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (Arthritis Foundation, 2019). 

Rheumatoid arthritis statistics

  • Up to 14 million people around the world have rheumatoid arthritis (World Health Organization, 2021). 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 1.36 million adults in the U.S. (Rheumatology International, 2017). 

Gout statistics

  • More than 42 million people around the world have gout (Healio, 2020).
  • More than 9 million Americans have gout (Rheumatology [Oxford], 2019). 
  • Nearly 4% of U.S. adults have gout (Rheumatology [Oxford], 2019). 

Juvenile arthritis statistics

  • About 1 child in every 1,000 develops some type of chronic arthritis (American College of Rheumatology, 2019).
  • Juvenile arthritis affects almost 300,000 kids younger than 16 in the United States every year (Arthritis Foundation, 2021). 
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the most common childhood chronic rheumatologic disorder (Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, 2021). 

Arthritis statistics by age

  • 60% of people who have arthritis are between the ages of 18 and 64 (CDC, 2020).
  • Nearly 50% of older adults who are 65 or older have arthritis (CDC, 2018). 
  • Only 7% of people ages 18 to 44 have arthritis (CDC, 2018).
  • 29% of people between the ages of 45 and 64 have arthritis (CDC, 2018). 

Arthritis statistics by race/ethnicity

  • 41.3 million non-Hispanic white people have been diagnosed with arthritis (CDC, 2018).
  • 6.1 million non-Hispanic black people have been diagnosed with arthritis (CDC, 2018).
  • 4.4 million Hispanic adults have been diagnosed with arthritis (CDC, 2018).
  • 1.5 million non-Hispanic Asian adults have been diagnosed with arthritis (CDC, 2018).

Arthritis statistics in males vs. females

  • Women are three times more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis than men are (Medscape, 2021). 
  • 60% of people with osteoarthritis are women (Summit Orthopedics, 2019). 
  • Men are more likely than women to develop arthritis before the age of 55, but more women than men develop arthritis after the age of 55 (Intermountain Healthcare, 2016). 
  • Women are 40% more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis than men are (Arthritis Health, 2021). 
  • Women report more pain from arthritis than men do (Arthritis Health, 2021). 

Arthritis and overall health

  • As many as 88% of people say arthritis affects their quality of life (SingleCare, 2021). 
  • 54% of survey respondents reported moderate to severe arthritis pain (SingleCare, 2021).
  • 58% of survey respondents reported that arthritis has had a moderate to significant impact on their lives (SingleCare, 2021). 
  • 24 million U.S. adults are limited physically by their arthritis (CDC, 2020). 
  • Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States (CDC, 2020). 
  • More than 8 million working adults face work limitations because of their arthritis or other rheumatic conditions (CDC, 2020). 
  • More than 560,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. involve rheumatoid arthritis (Cureus, 2020). 
  • Two out of every 100,000 people die from arthritis every year (Arthritis Consumer Experts, 2021). 
  • People with osteoarthritis have a 24% higher risk of getting cardiovascular disease than those without it (Arthritis Foundation, 2021). 
  • It’s estimated that by 2040, an estimated 35 million adults (44%) will report arthritis-attributable activity limitations (CDC, 2019). 

The cost of arthritis

  • Work disability medical care and lost earnings related to arthritis cost the U.S. public health system more than $303 billion every year (CDC, 2020). 
  • Osteoarthritis accounts for more than $16 billion of the combined cost for all hospitalizations in the U.S. and is a significant national health burden (CDC, 2020). 
  • Half of the medical costs for arthritis care come from ambulatory care (CDC, 2020). 

Causes of arthritis

According to SingleCare’s arthritis survey, 47% of respondents with arthritis believed that age was the cause of their arthritis, 45% believed family history was the cause of arthritis, and 31% believed a previous injury was the cause of arthritis.

Rheumatic diseases like arthritis are complex and can have numerous causes. It can be caused by autoimmune diseases, injuries, infections, normal wear and tear on joints, and genetics. 

“Most commonly, arthritis is seen in adults over age 65,” says Tom Biernacki, DPM, a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon and podiatrist in Berkley, Michigan. “It is more common in people who are very active, such as people who are on their feet all day at work. Other risk factors include people who are overweight and people who have less muscle mass compared to their body weight. Unfortunately, as we all get older, on average, we get heavier and our muscles get weaker. This will lead to increased wear and tear of cartilage and eventually bone-on-bone rubbing. This does eventually catch up to most people who develop enough risk factors.”

Arthritis prevention 

It may not be possible to prevent arthritis entirely, but there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of developing it. Exercising regularly is really important to help keep your muscles strong and your joints limber. This will also help prevent injuries. Maintaining healthy body weight is also important because this means there’s less weight putting pressure on weight-bearing joints. Almost 23% of overweight adults and 31% of adults with obesity reported being diagnosed with arthritis, according to the CDC. Other ways to help prevent arthritis include stretching regularly and getting routine check-ups to make sure your joints are staying healthy.

In SingleCare’s arthritis survey, 31% of respondents with arthritis reportedly used exercise to reduce arthritis pain, and 21% reportedly modified their diet or participated in a weight loss program.

Many organizations and institutes are dedicated to helping prevent arthritis and work hard to educate the general population about arthritis prevention. If you want to learn more about how to prevent arthritis check out the Arthritis Foundation, Arthritis National Research Foundation, or talk with your primary care physician. 

Treating arthritis

Even though arthritis can be painful, there are treatments available to help reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness. A 2010 study found that 42% of people who received a combination of rheumatoid arthritis treatments achieved complete remission within two years of starting treatment. Up to 68% of those achieved “low disease activity.”

Medications are often used to treat arthritis because they can reduce chronic pain and inflammation. Painkillers and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may help arthritis pain. Corticosteroids can suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. For conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can stop the immune system from attacking healthy joints. Biologic response modifiers target protein molecules that are involved in the immune response and help reduce inflammation. 

In a SingleCare survey, we found that 52% of respondents with arthritis took analgesics (like Tylenol) and 46% took nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen and naproxen).

Inflammation can be well controlled with anti-inflammatories, but this is usually a supplement and not the main treatment,” says Dr. Biernacki. “This should function as an assistive treatment, and not the core treatment.” 

There are also numerous surgical and medical solutions on the horizon. There are new joint replacement surgeries that have proven to be very effective with high success rates and good durability. There are also injections such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or hyaluronic acid that treat arthritis, and new types of stem cell injections show promising results but aren’t currently considered to be a standard insurance coverage treatment. 

Arthritis questions and answers

What country has the most cases of arthritis?

One study indicates that the United States has the highest prevalence of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis.

What percent of the U.S. population has arthritis?

Twenty-three percent of U.S. adults have some form of arthritis. 

How many new cases of arthritis are there per year?

The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis is predicted to rise by as much as 1% each year. 

What is the average age of getting arthritis?

The average age of getting arthritis varies depending on the type of arthritis, but most people develop the condition between the ages of 30 and 60. 

Why is arthritis more common in females?

Once women reach menopause, their estrogen levels drop and estrogen helps fight cartilage and joint inflammation. Women also have more flexible joints than men, which increases their risk of getting arthritis.

Arthritis research