The Prevalence and Statistics of Arthritis

Generally speaking, the prevalence of arthritis in the United States has increased, and it will continue to climb as the baby boomer generation ages. Since arthritis is the most common cause of disability in America, analysts are trying to gain perspective on "the looming disease burden and its impact on our nation's health care and public health systems" by estimating disease prevalence.

Sounds serious when you string together words like prevalence, burden, and impact, but actually "prevalence" just refers to the number of people affected by any type of arthritis. Simply put — how common is it?

Close-up of an old wrinkled hand holding a cane.
Carmen Martínez Torrón / Getty Images

Who Compiles the Data?

The National Arthritis Data Workgroup provides a single source of national data for various rheumatic conditions. The workgroup is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Rheumatology, and the Arthritis Foundation. Experts use the data — derived from census reports, national surveys, and community-based studies — to define:

  • Disease prevalence
  • The potential impact of disease
  • Disease rates, populations, and social implications

The Burden of Arthritis and Its Future Impact

The National Arthritis Data Workgroup revealed information about the burden of arthritis and its expected future burden.


  • More than 22% of American adults (over 52.5 million people) have arthritis or another rheumatic condition diagnosed by a doctor.
  • 7.3% of people age 18-44 have doctor-diagnosed arthritis; 30.3% of people age 45-64; and 49.7% of those over 65.
  • 26% of women and 19.1% of men have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
  • 2.9 million Hispanic adults and 4.6 million non-Hispanic Blacks report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
  • By 2030, the number of people with arthritis (adults 18 years and older) is expected to rise to 67 million.


  • Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Nearly 27 million Americans reportedly had osteoarthritis in 2005, and that represents an increase from 21 million in 1990.
  • Two in 3 people who are obese may develop symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in their lifetime.
  • Nearly 1 in 2 people may develop symptomatic knee osteoarthritis by age 85 years.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis affected 1.5 million adults in 2007, down from 2.1 million in 1990.
  • The drop in the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis is attributed to more restrictive classification criteria, as well as a genuine drop in prevalence.
  • The incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is 2 to 3 times higher in women than men. In both men and women, the onset of rheumatoid arthritis is highest among people in their 60s.


  • In 2005, about 3 million Americans had gout within the previous 12 months compared to 2.1 million in 1990.
  • Gout tends to be more prevalent in older men.
  • Gout tends to be more prevalent in older African-American males than in older white or older Hispanic males.

Juvenile Arthritis

  • It is estimated that 294,000 children (1 in 250 children in the U.S.) between infancy and 17 years old are affected by arthritis or other rheumatic condition (juvenile idiopathic arthritis).

Other Prevalence Statistics

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Arthritis-Related Statistics. CDC. Updated January 25, 2016.

  • Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States: Part I. Arthritis & Rheumatism. January 2008.

  • Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States: Part II. Arthritis & Rheumatism. January 2008.

  • The incidence and prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus, 2002-2004: The Georgia Lupus Registry. Arthritis & Rheumatology February 2014.

By Carol Eustice
Carol Eustice is a writer covering arthritis and chronic illness, who herself has been diagnosed with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.