An estimated 54.4 million adults in the United States are affected by some form of arthritis.1

While there is limited OA-specific cost data and the majority of cost estimates reflect the total cost of all forms of arthritis, the most common form of the more than 100 different rheumatic conditions that comprise arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA) which affects an estimated 30.8 million adults.2 The number of adults with OA is expected to increase as baby boomers age and enter into age groups with higher prevalence of arthritis and OA.3 By 2040, the number of adults with arthritis is projected to increase to 78.4 million, most of whom will have OA.3

How the Cost of OA Affects the Nation

OA has a significant economic impact due to the effects of disability, comorbid disease, and the expense of treatment.4 According to the United States Bone and Joint Initiative, 33% of reported lost work days for medical conditions was due to arthritis-related conditions (172.1 million total work days lost).5 Mean health care expenditures for arthritis-related conditions increased 192% from 1996 to 2011. Medical costs for adults with OA cost around $2,079 per person per year in medical costs.5 In 2010, there were 21.7 million ambulatory care visits and over 6.7 million inpatient hospitalizations for people with OA. In 2010 and 2011, there were an estimated 1.3 to 1.4 million joint replacements performed, the majority for people with OA. Medical expenditures most likely attributed to OA cost $62.1 billion in each year between 2008 and 2011.5

How the Cost of Arthritis Affects the States

When broken down by state, information from 2003 show total costs of arthritis ranged from $12.1 billion in California to $226 million in the District of Columbia.6

The states with the highest cost attributable to arthritis:

  1. California, $12.1 billion
  2. New York, $8.7 billion
  3. Texas, $8.7 billion
  4. Florida, $7.6 billion
  5. Pennsylvania, $6.5 billion
  6. Ohio, $5.7 billion
  7. Michigan, $5.5 billion
  8. North Carolina, $4.1 billion
  9. Georgia, $3.9 billion
  10. New Jersey, $3.5 billion

You can view the full rankings here.

How the Cost of OA Affects the Employer

While OA is more common in certain occupations such as mining, construction, agriculture, and sectors of the service industry, osteoarthritis can interfere with the ability to be productive while on any job.7,8 Between 2010 and 2012, 3.8 million adults in the US with doctor-diagnosed arthritis reported they were unable to work due to their health and 2.1 million adults reported they were limited in the kind or amount of work they could do.5 As the most common form of arthritis, it is likely that OA accounts for a large portion of those with work limitations. Earning losses due to OA cost an estimated $81 billion per year.1 About 1 in 4 (44%) of adults age 18 to 64 with doctor-diagnosed arthritis report an arthritis-attributable work limitation.1

How OA Affects Individuals with the Condition

Many Americans with OA face chronic pain and functional limitations, which often results in job loss and reduced quality of life. OA also can have negative effects on mood, sleep and participation in social and leisure activities.9 OA is a leading cause of disability with approximately 17 million years lived with disability from hip and knee OA in 2010. In a global study of 291 conditions, hip and knee OA was ranked as the 11th highest contributor to disability.10,11 One in four people with knee OA have pain while walking and have difficulty doing major activities of daily life such as climbing stairs, and kneeling or stooping.12 More than half of all adults with diabetes or heart disease also have arthritis, and nearly one-third of adults with obesity also have arthritis.1 OA pain, or fear of pain, causes many people to be sedentary, even though physical activity is an important management strategy for OA and these other chronic illnesses.1,13, 14


  1. Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Boring M, Brady TJ. Vital Signs: Prevalence of Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis and Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitation — United States, 2013–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:246–253. DOI:
  2. Cisternas MG, Murthy L, Sacks JJ, Solomon DH, Pasta DJ, Helmick CG. Alternative Methods for Defining Osteoarthritis and the Impact on Estimating Prevalence in a US Population-Based Survey. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2016 May;68(5):574-80.
  3. Hootman, J. M., Helmick, C. G., Barbour, K. E., Theis, K. A. and Boring, M. A. (2016), Updated Projected Prevalence of Self-Reported Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis and Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitation Among US Adults, 2015–2040. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 68: 1582–1587. doi:10.1002/art.39692
  4. Bitton, R. (2009). The economic burden of osteoarthritis. Am J Manag Care, 15(8 Suppl), S230-S235.
  5. United States Bone and Joint Initiative: The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States (BMUS), Third Edition, 2014. Rosemont, IL. Available at
  7. Yucesoy B, Charles LE, Baker B, Burchfiel CM. Occupational and genetic risk factors for osteoarthritis: a review. Work 2015; 50(2):261-273.
  8. Silverwood,V., Blagojevic-Bucknall,M., Jinks,C., Jordan,J.L., Protheroe,J., & Jordan,K.P. (2015). Current evidence on risk factors for knee osteoarthritis in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 23(4), 507-515.
  9. A. Hawker, L. Stewart, M.R. French, J. Cibere, J.M. Jordan, L. March, et al. Understanding the pain experience in hip and knee osteoarthritis–an OARSI/OMERACT initiative. Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 16 (2008), pp. 415–422
  10. Vos,T et al. Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet, 380(9859), 2163-2196.
  11. Cross M, Smith E, Hoy D, Nolte S, Ackerman I, Fransen M et al. The global burden of hip and knee osteoarthritis: estimates from the global burden of disease 2010 study. Ann Rheum Dis 2014; 73(7):1323-1330.
  12. Dillon CF, Rasch EK, Gu Q, Hirsch R. Prevalence of knee osteoarthritis in the United States: Arthritis data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1991-1994. J Rheumatol, 2006;33(11):2271-2279.
  13. Bolen J, Hootman J, Helmick CG, Murphy L, Langmaid G, Caspersen CJ. Arthritis as a potential barrier to physical activity among adults with diabetes – United States, 2005 and 2007. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(18):486-489.
  14. Dunlop DD, Song J, Semanik PA, Chang RW, Sharma L, Bathon JM et al. Objective physical activity measurement in the osteoarthritis initiative: Are guidelines being met? Arthritis Rheum 2011; 63(11):3372-3382.
Updated April 5, 2017