Arthritis on the Rise: A Growing Problem

March 2, 2008

The number of Americans with arthritis or another rheumatological disorder is expected to climb to 67 million-a 44% increase-by the year 2030, according to a new study released by the CDC for the National Arthritis Data Workgroup (NADW).

The number of Americans with arthritis or another rheumatological disorder is expected to climb to 67 million-a 44% increase-by the year 2030, according to a new study released by the CDC for the National Arthritis Data Workgroup (NADW). The prevalence of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, has reached about 27 million persons, up from an estimated 21 million in 1990 (a 29% increase). Gout now affects about 3 million adults, a 43% increase. Of the common rheumatological conditions, only rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has decreased in prevalence (Table).

The NADW is a consortium of experts in epidemiology that provides a single source of national data on the prevalence and impact of rheumatological diseases. The 2-part study, "Estimates of the Prevalence of Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Conditions in the United States," used published research to estimate the number of persons affected in 2005 by more than 100 diseases and conditions that involve the joints.

Other highlights of the study include the following:
• More than 46 million persons have arthritis, representing close to 1 of 5 US adults.
• Close to two thirds of patients who received a diagnosis of arthritis are younger than 65 years.
• About 1.3 million adults have RA compared with 2.1 million in 1990. More restrictive classification criteria may account for some of this apparent decline, along with an actual decrease, for which there was no explanation.

Many of these conditions are age-related, and the researchers attributed the increasing prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatological disorders to the aging of the US population. They predicted a growing burden on the health care and public health systems and suggested that more interventions and programs are needed to reduce the burden.

For more information about the NADW study, visit the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov/arthritis or contact the organization at National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Adult and Community Health, Health Care and Aging Studies Branch, Arthritis Section, Mailstop K-51, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724; telephone: 770-488-5464; fax: 770-488-5964; e-mail: arthritis@cdc.gov.