Arthritis: The Nation's Leading Cause of Disability

Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions affect nearly 43 million Americans, or about one of every six people, making it one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States. Arthritis comprises a variety of diseases and conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, childhood arthritis, gout, bursitis, Lyme arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. These diseases and conditions can drastically reduce a person's quality of life.

Arthritis is not just an "old person's disease": nearly three of every five people with arthritis are younger than 65 years.

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, limiting everyday activities for more than 7 million Americans. In many cases, arthritis deprives individuals of their independence and disrupts the lives of family members and other caregivers. In addition, disabilities from arthritis create enormous costs for individuals, their families, and the nation. Each year, arthritis results in 44 million outpatient visits and almost three-quarters of a million hospitalizations. Estimated medical care costs for people with arthritis are $15 billion annually, and total costs (medical care and lost productivity) are estimated at almost $65 billion annually.

The impact of arthritis is expected to increase dramatically as "baby boomers" age. By 2020, an estimated 60 million Americans, or almost 20% of the population, will be affected by arthritis, and nearly 12 million will experience activity limitations.

For more, please visit the MedicineNet.com Arthritis Center.

The information above was provided by the Centers for Disease Control.


Last Editorial Review: 7/6/2004