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Large Joints Feature

Source: Wikimedia Commons and wellcome images

Arthritis Prevalence 69% Higher Than Previously Thought

Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed. • Wed, November 29th, 2017

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Turns out that the U.S. is in much worse shape than we thought when it comes to arthritis.

Traditional estimates have been based on a one-question survey, asking patients if they recall having been told by a healthcare provider that they have arthritis. New research, however, takes into account doctor-diagnosed arthritis, chronic joint symptoms, and whether the symptoms exceeded three months.

The article, “Updated Estimates Suggest a Much Higher Prevalence of Arthritis in US Adults Than Previous Ones,” appears in the November 27, 2017 edition of Arthritis & Rheumatology.

David T. Felson, M.D., M.P.H. professor of medicine with the Boston University School of Medicine and co-author on the study along with S. Reza Jafarzadeh, D.V.M., M.P.V.M., Ph.D. told OTW, “We thought arthritis prevalence was likely to be underestimated, especially in those under age 65 given recent increases in total knee arthroplasty and other orthopedic procedures in this age group.”

“We used the same source of data on arthritis prevalence that had been used by others but noted that the questions from a national survey relied only on one question about doctor diagnosed arthritis and that many persons under age 65 with verified arthritis had been missed by this question. Using other questions from the survey about joint pain lasting for three months, we updated estimates.”

The overarching finding, says Dr. Felson: “The prevalence of arthritis is 69% higher than previous estimates.”

In the November 27, 2017 news release, the authors wrote, “The prevalence of arthritis was 29.9 percent in men aged 18-64 years, 31.2 percent in women aged 18-64 years, 55.8 percent in men aged 65 years and older, and 68.7 percent in women aged 65 years and older. Arthritis affected 91.2 million US adults (36.8 percent of the population) in 2015, which included 61.1 million persons between 18-64 years (31.6 percent of the population).”

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