Fast facts

What does arthritis look like in Australia?  We’ve put some infographics together to help show just how huge of an impact arthritis is:

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Arthritis in Australia

  • 3.6 million Australians have arthritis. That’s 1 in 7 people
  • Baby boomers are more than twice as likely to report having arthritis as the general population
  • The most commonly reported long-term health conditions were a mental health condition, arthritis and asthma
  • The most common co-morbidities in the 2021 census were arthritis and mental health, arthritis and asthma, and arthritis and heart disease
  • 20% of people living alone have arthritis, compared with 7.3% of people living in family or group households
  • Over 20% of people with arthritis need assistance with a core activity
  • Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions account for 13% of the total burden of disease in Australia
  • Arthritis is the leading cause of chronic pain and the second most common cause of disability and early retirement due to ill health in Australia.

The disease

  • There are more than 100 different types of arthritis
  • Most forms of arthritis are thought to be auto-immune conditions, where the body’s immune system attacks its own joint tissues
  • Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout are the most common forms of arthritis
  • Children get arthritis too

The cost

  • Around 2 million people with arthritis are of working age (15-64 years)
  • 52,000 people (aged 15-64 years) unable to work due to arthritis
  • Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions cost the health system an estimated $14 billion in 2018
  • Extra welfare costs and lost tax revenue due to early retirement due to arthritis cost $1.1 billion in 2015
Sources:[1] 2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Long-term health conditions [Internet]. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2022 [cited 31 August 2022]. Available from: [2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. Arthritis. Cat. no. PHE 234. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 10 August 2021, [3] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021. Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2018. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 23. Cat. no. BOD 29. Canberra: AIHW: [4] Ackerman IN, Bohensky MA, Pratt C, Gorelik A, Liew D, 2016. Counting the Cost: the current and future burden of arthritis. Part 1 Healthcare Costs. Arthritis Australia 2016. [5] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009. Chronic disease and participation in work. Cat. No. PHE 109. Canberra: AIHW.Last reviewed 31 August 2022.