Cost of Osteoarthritis

An estimated 50 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 nearly 27 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. By 2030, the number of adults with arthritis is expected to increase to 67 million, most of whom will have OA.3

How the Cost of OA Affects the Nation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2003 the approximate total cost of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States was $128 billion.4

In 2004, those with OA had over 11 million physician and outpatient visits, 632,000 joint replacements, and were hospitalized 662,000 times, all totaling $22.6 billion in hospital costs alone.5

How the Cost of Arthritis Affects the States

When broken down by state, 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 Thirty percent of those with doctor-diagnosed arthritis work less or are not working at all due to an arthritis-attributable work limitation.9 As the most common form of arthritis, it is likely that OA accounts for a large portion of those with work limitations. Job-related OA costs amount to $3.4 to $13.2 billion per year.10

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 is a leading cause of disability with nearly one million years lived annually with disability from hip and knee OA.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. 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.13


  1. Cheng YJ, Hootman JM, Murphy LB, Langmaid GA, Helmick CG. Prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation — United States, 2007–2009. MMWR 2010;59(39):1261–1265.
  2. Lawrence RC, Felson DT, Helmick CG, et al. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States. Part II. Arthritis Rheum 2008;58(1):26–35.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Yelin E, Cisternas M, Foreman A, Pasta D, Murphy L, Helmick C. National and state medical expenditures and lost earnings attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions — United States, 2003. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2007;56(1):4–7.
  5. United States Bone and Joint Decade. The burden of musculoskeletal diseases in the United States. Rosemont, IL:American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons;2008.
  7. Felson DT, Zhang Y. An update on the epidemiology of knew and hip osteoarthritis with a view to prevention. Arthritis & Rheumatism 1998;41(8):1343-1355
  8. Rossignol M, Leclerc A, Allaert FA, Rozenberg S, Valat JP, Avouac B, et al. Primary osteoarthritis of hip, knee, and hand in relation to occupational exposure. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2005;62(11):772-777.
  9. Theis KA, Murphy L, Hootman JM, Helmick CG, Yelin E. Prevalence and correlates of arthritis attributable work limitation in the US population among persons ages 18-64: 2002 National Health Interview Survey Data. Arthritis Care & Research 2007;57(3):355-363.
  10. Buckwalter JA, Saltzman C, Brown T. The impact of osteoarthritis. Clin Orthoped Rel Res 2004:427S: S6–S15.
  11. Michaud CM, McKenna MT, Begg, S, Tomijima N, Majmudar M, Bulzacchelli MT, et al. The burden of disease and injury in the United States 1996. Population Health Metrics 2006 Oct 18;4-11.
  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. Journal of Rheumatology, 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.