Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

National Statistics

The CDC combined data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) years 2010-2012 Sample Adult Core components to estimate average annual arthritis prevalence in the civilian, non-institutionalized US adult population aged 18 years or older. Overall, 22.7% (52.5 million) of adults reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis, with significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence in women (23.9%) than in men (18.6%). Arthritis prevalence increased with age.1

Future Arthritis Burden

With the aging of the US population, the prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis is expected to increase in the coming decades. By the year 2040, an estimated 78 million (26% of the projected total adult population) adults aged 18 years and older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis,2 compared with the 52.5 million adults in 2010-2012. Two-thirds of those with arthritis will be women. Also by 2040, an estimated 35 million adults (44% of adults with arthritis or 11% of all US adults) will report arthritis-attributable activity limitations.2 These estimates may be conservative, as they do not account for the current trends in obesity, which may contribute to future cases of osteoarthritis. 

 Top of Page

Arthritis-Attributable Limitations

The impact of arthritis on individuals is significant. About 43% (22.7 million) of the 52.5 million adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis report limitations in their usual activities due to their arthritis.1  

 

Specific Functional Limitations Among People with Arthritis

Functional limitations in common daily activities are common among adults with arthritis; 40% report it is “very difficult” or they “cannot do” at least 1 of 9 important daily functional activities. For example, almost 8 million adults who report an activity limitation due to their arthritis also report severe limitation in their ability to stoop, bend, or kneel, and 6 million cannot walk ¼ mile. Figure 1 shows the prevalence of specific functional limitations. Impairment in the ability to perform essential daily living activities may interfere with the ability of people with arthritis to work, function in their community, or care for their family.

 

Millions of adults with arthritis report limitations in specific functional activities. Functional limitation is defined as "very difficult" or "cannot do" for the following activities. Approximate number of adults with arthritis who report limitations in specific functional activities: grasp small objects= 3 million; reach above one's head= 4million; sit more than 2 hours= 5 million; lift or carry 10 pounds= 6 million; climb a flight of stairs= 8 million; push a heavy object= 9 million; walk a ¼ mile= 11 million; stand more than 2 hours= 14 million; stoop, bend, or kneel= 14 million.

Figure 1. Specific Functional Limitations Among People with Arthritis

A text description of this graph is also available.

Data Source: 2009 National Health Interview Survey

Note: Functional limitation is defined as "very difficult" or "cannot do" for the following activities: grasp small objects; reach above one's head; sit more than 2 hours; lift or carry 10 pounds; climb a flight of stairs; push a heavy object; walk a 1/4 mile; stand more than 2 hours; stoop, bend, or kneel, 2009.3

 Top of Page

 

Arthritis Prevalence and Arthritis-Related Activity Limitations are Highest Among Obese Adults

The age-adjusted prevalence of arthritis is significantly higher among obese adults (28.9%) versus normal/underweight adults (16.3%). Those with excess weight are more likely to have arthritis activity limitations. Among normal/underweight adults with arthritis, 38.2% report arthritis-attributable activity limitations compared with 44.8% among obese adults with arthritis. Weight loss of as little as 11 pounds reduces the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by half.4

 

Figure 5a. Arthritis Prevalence by Body Mass Index (BMI) Categories The age-adjusted prevalence of arthritis increases with increased body mass index (BMI). Among normal/underweight adults, 16.3% report having arthritis. Among overweight adults, 20.3% report having arthritis. Among obese adults, 28.9% report having arthritis.

Figure 2a. Age- Adjusted Arthritis Prevalence by Body Mass Index (BMI) Categories, 2010-2012.1

A text description of this graph is also available.

Data source: 2010-2012 National Health Interview Survey

 

Figure 5b. Arthritis Attributable Activity Limitations Among Adults by Body Mass Index (BMI) Categories Among normal/underweight adults with arthritis, 38.2% report arthritis-attributable activity limitations. Among overweight adults with arthritis, 37.2% report arthritis-attributable activity limitations. Among obese adults with arthritis, 44.8% report arthritis-attributable activity limitations. These estimates are all age-adjusted. *NOTE: Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated using the formula weight in kilograms/height in meters2. Underweight/normal=BMI ≤ 25; Overweight = BMI 25-29.99; Obese = BMI ≥ 30.

Figure 2b. Age- Adjusted Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitations among Adults with Arthritis by Body Mass Index (BMI) Categories, NHIS 2010-2012.1

A text description of this graph is also available.

Data source: 2010-2012 National Health Interview Survey 

*NOTE: Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated using the formula weight in kilograms/height in meters. Underweight/normal=BMI≤25; Overweight = BMI 25-29.99; Obese = BMI ≥ 30.

 

 Top of Page

Physical Inactivity Levels Among People with Arthritis

Although physical activity and exercise have been shown to benefit people with arthritis by improving pain, function, and mental health, many people with arthritis report no leisure time physical activity. Twenty-four percent of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis report no leisure time physical activity, a considerably higher proportion than adults without arthritis (18.6%) (age-adjusted prevalence estimates). Low levels of physical activity place individuals with arthritis at further risk of inactivity-associated conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and functional limitations.

Figure 6. Proportion of Physically Inactive* Adults With and Without Arthritis from 2010-2012 Although physical activity and exercise have been shown to benefit people with arthritis by improving pain, function, and mental health, many people with arthritis report no leisure time physical activity. 24.0% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are physically inactive. 18.6% of adults who do not have arthritis are physically inactive. *NOTE: Inactive = no reported leisure-time physical activity.

Figure 3. Age- Adjusted Prevalence of Physical Inactivity* among Adults with and without Arthritis, NHIS 2010-2012.1

A text description of this graph is also available.

Data Source: 2010-2012 National Health Interview Survey

*NOTE: Inactive = no reported leisure-time physical activity.

 Top of Page

 

References

  1. Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Theis KA, Murphy LB, Hootman JM, Brady TJ, Cheng YJ. Prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation-United States, 2010-2012. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013; 62(44): 869–873. PubMed PMID: 24196662. html [PDF-542KB]
  2. Hootman JM, Helmick CG, Barbour KE, Theis KA, Boring MA.  Updated projected prevalence of self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation among US adults, 2015-2040.  Arthritis & Rheumatology. 2016 Mar 25. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed PMID: 27015600. abstract
  3. Theis KA, Murphy L, Hootman JM, Helmick CG, Sacks JJ. Arthritis Restricts Volunteer Participation: Prevalence and Correlates of Volunteer Status Among Adults With Arthritis. Arthritis Care & Research;62(7):907–916. abstract
  4. Felson DT, Zhang Y, Hannan MT, et al. Risk factors for incident radiographic knee osteoarthritis in the elderly: the Framingham Study. Arthritis Rheum. 1997;40(4):728-33. PubMed PMID: 9125257. abstract

 

 Top of Page

Top