Arthritis and rheumatic diseases in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Rheumatic diseases affect a person’s joints and muscles and include both degenerative conditions, as well as autoimmune diseases. Some of the most commonly known rheumatic diseases include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and Sjogren’s syndrome. However, there are over 100 diseases and conditions that fall under the category of rheumatism. Despite the breadth of such conditions, the term arthritis is commonly used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints. When a person has arthritis, it generally refers to a more specific rheumatic disease.


From 2013 to 2015, it was estimated that around 18 percent of men and 23.5 percent of women in the United States had doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Arthritis can cause severe joint pain and is more common among those with other chronic conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), doctor-diagnosed arthritis was prevalent in 16.4 percent of individuals who were underweight or of normal weight, while 27.7 percent of those who were obese had such conditions. In addition, those who have been diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to have also been diagnosed with arthritis than those without diabetes.

The pain and discomfort of arthritis and diseases that affect the joints can be constant and severe, and can therefore deeply affect the lives of those who suffer. It is estimated that around 38.5 percent of men and 43.8 percent of women with arthritis experience activity limitations due to this disease. In 2015, around 58 million people in the U.S. were thought to have arthritis, with 25 million of them experiencing arthritis-attributable activity limitation. Such limitations can also extend to work, with 4.6 percent of adults in the state of California believed to have some work limitation attributable to arthritis.

The high prevalence of rheumatic diseases supports a large market for treatment and medication. In spring of 2016, it was estimated that just over 26 million people bought medications in the U.S. in the past year because of arthritis. Furthermore, the value of the rheumatoid arthritis market in 2013 was estimated at 6.4 billion U.S. dollars and is forecast to reach 9.3 billion dollars by the year 2020. In 2015, there were around 5,000 rheumatologists, doctors with specific training in diagnosing and treating rheumatic diseases, in the United States. However, over the next 15 years, this number is expected to decrease to fewer than 3,500.

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Arthritis and rheumatic diseases in the U.S. - Important statistics

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