Arthritis Facts

As the leading cause of disability in the U.S.,1 arthritis is highly prevalent among adults and associated with substantial activity limitation, work disability, reduced quality of life, and high health-care costs.2-4 An estimated 21.6 percent of the adult U.S. population (46.4 million) reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis in 2005. In addition, 17.4 million (8.3% of the adult U.S. population) have arthritis-attributable activity limitation.5 As the population ages, the prevalence of arthritis (see figure 1) is expected to grow from the current 46.4 million Americans today to 67 million by 2030, an increase of 144%.6

Figure 1

Projection of U.S. Prevalence of Arthritis and Associated Activity Limitations 7

Using Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data, the CDC analyzed national and
state-specific direct costs (i.e., medical expenditures) and indirect costs (i.e., lost earnings) attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions (AORC) in the United States during 2003. The CDC report describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that in 2003 the total cost of AORC in the United States was approximately $128 billion ($80.8 billion in direct and $47.0 billion in indirect costs), equivalent to 1.2% of the 2003 U.S. gross domestic product.8

  CDC. Prevalence of disabilities and associated health conditions among adults—United States, 1999. MMWR 2001; 50:120–5.
2  CDC. Racial/ethnic differences in the prevalence and impact of doctor-diagnosed arthritis—United States, 2002. MMWR 2005; 54:119–23.
3  Mili F, Helmick CG, Moriarty DG. Health related quality of life among adults reporting arthritis: analysis of data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, U.S., 1996–99. J Rheumatol 2003; 30:160–6.
4  CDC. Targeting arthritis: reducing disability for 43 million Americans: at a glance 2006. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2006. Available at
5  Hootman JM, Helmick CG. Projections of US prevalence of arthritis and associated activity limitations. Arthritis Rheum 2006; 54:226–9.
6  CDC. Prevalence of Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis and Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitation — United States, 2003–2005.  MMWR 2006; 55:1089-92.
7  CDC, Projected Prevalence of Self-Reported Arthritis or Chronic Joint Symptoms Among Persons Aged >65 Years — United States, 2005–2030, MMWR 2003, 52: 489-491
8  CDC. National and State Medical Expenditures and Lost Earnings Attributable to Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Conditions — United States, 2003.  MMWR 2007; 56: 4-7.