Arthritis Prevalence to Jump from 54 to 78 Million by 2040


The burden of arthritis is increasing on the nation as a whole and on individual patients, the CDC states in a new report.

The burden of arthritis is increasing on the nation as a whole and on individual patients, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states in a new report.

“Our findings suggest that the burden of arthritis is increasing and requires more widespread use of existing, underused evidence-based interventions,” the authors of the report wrote.

The report is based on an analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey, an annual survey of adults in the United States which found that between 2013–2015, 54.4 million adults in the U.S. were diagnosed with arthritis. And, half of those with arthritis (43.5%) limited their activities due to their condition - which is an increase of 20% since 2002. Patients with pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, also had arthritis (49.3%, 47.1% and 30.6%, respectively). And, in terms of how comorbid conditions influenced activity limitations, 54.5% (heart disease), 54.0% (diabetes) and 49.0% (obesity) said they limited their activities due to arthritic flares.

“The prevalence of arthritis is high, particularly among adults with comorbid conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity,” the authors of the report wrote. “Approximately half of adults with arthritis and heart disease, arthritis and diabetes, or arthritis and obesity are limited by their arthritis.”

Americans do not need to live with constant pain, the authors wrote. More physical activity and self-management can relieve symptoms for some patients, but in particular, arthritic patients with comorbid conditions. The authors urged physicians to recommend self-management education programs to patients, which they suggest will encourage patients to take an active role in managing their condition. In this survey, only 11% of patients completed a self-management education program.

“A health care provider’s recommendation to patients with arthritis is important, because adults with arthritis are significantly more likely to attend a self-management education program to learn to manage their condition when recommended by a provider than adults with arthritis who were not recommended,” the authors wrote.

The prevalence of arthritis will continue to grow. Consider these important points from the report:

  • Arthritis is a leading cause of disability and is projected to affect 78.4 million adults by 2040.
  • The annual direct medical costs attributable to arthritis are approximately $81 billion in the United States.
  • The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis; other forms include, but are not limited to, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia.
  • About one million knee and hip joint replacements occur each year; 99% occur because of arthritis-related pain and functional limitations.
  • Among adults with arthritis, 27% report severe joint pain; one third of adults who are at least 45 years old report anxiety or depression.
  • Adults with arthritis are more than twice as likely to report an injury related to a fall.
  • Working-aged adults with arthritis have lower employment rates compared with adults without arthritis.



Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Boring M, Brady TJ. Vital Signs: Prevalence of Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis and Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitation - United States, 2013–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 7 March 2017. DOI:

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