Arthritis and related conditions

Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions, identified as AORC, are the second most common musculoskeletal diseases among adults and often lead to disability and the inability to work. Among the more recognized AORC conditions, which include more than 100 diseases, are osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease; rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory condition; gout, a painful and recurrent form of arthritis recognized from ancient times; and lupus. More than 300,000 children are affected by rheumatic conditions.

In 2003-2005, 46.4 million persons, or 21.6 percent of the adult population, reported having an AORC condition. Women are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis than men, but it affects both sexes. In 2005, symptomatic osteoarthritis in the hands was estimated to affect 13.1 mil­lion adults in the United States; 9.3 million adults had symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Based on a doctor’s examination, an estimated 26.9 million adults had clinical osteoarthritis in at least one joint in 2005. Rheumatoid arthritis was estimated to affect 1.3 million adults in 2005.

The cost of arthritis and related conditions
In 2004, the estimated annual cost for medical care to treat all forms of arthritis and joint pain was $281.5 billion, an increase of 53 percent in 2004 dollars over the estimated cost in 1996. The increasing cost of prescription drugs accounts for the largest proportion of this increase, and now accounts for 23 percent of arthritis-related expenses.

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