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Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis & selected musculoskeletal disorders in the United States

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OBJECTIVE: To provide a single source for the best available

estimates of the national prevalence of arthritis in general

and of selected musculoskeletal disorders (osteoarthritis,

rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, the

spondylarthropathies, systemic lupus erythematosus,

scleroderma, polymyalgia rheumatica/giant cell arteritis,

gout, fibromyalgia, and low back pain).

METHODS: The National

Arthritis Data Workgroup reviewed data from available surveys,

such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

series. For overall national estimates, we used surveys based

on representative samples. Because data based on national

population samples are unavailable for most specific

musculoskeletal conditions, we derived data from various

smaller survey samples from defined populations. Prevalence

estimates from these surveys were linked to 1990 US Bureau of

the Census population data to calculate national estimates. We

also estimated the expected frequency of arthritis in the year


RESULTS: Current national estimates are provided, with

important caveats regarding their interpretation, for

self-reported arthritis and selected conditions. An estimated

15% (40 million) of Americans had some form of arthritis in

1995. By the year 2020, an estimated 18.2% (59.4 million) will

be affected.

CONCLUSION: Given the limitations of the data on

which they are based, this report provides the best available

prevalence estimates for arthritis and other rheumatic

conditions overall, and for selected musculoskeletal

disorders, in the US population.

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