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Arthritis Facts - Canada

5 circles each showing x-ray of different body parts

Arthritis is Canada’s most prevalent chronic health condition – for which there is no cure.

Arthritis strikes people of every age, from infants to adults, and stays for life. Arthritis is a complex disease with over 100 different types. Major types are inflammatory arthritis (like rheumatoid arthritis, childhood arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout), and the most common form, osteoarthritis. Fibromyalgia can have similar symptoms to arthritis.

Arthritis results in painful inflammation and stiffness in joints, limiting the ability to move. Left untreated, arthritis can cause permanent joint damage and/or changes. A significant proportion of people with arthritis are overweight or obese and are physically inactive, adding undue stress to their joints. Some types of arthritis can affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and even the skin. A significant proportion of people with arthritis also have other serious diseases like heart disease or diabetes.

Arthritis has a devastating impact on life

A significant proportion of people living with arthritis report difficulties with activities of daily living, such as doing housework and running errands, and report needing assistance with aspects of daily life. People with arthritis are more likely to experience anxiety, mood disorders, poor mental health, and difficulty sleeping, compared to those without arthritis. Those with arthritis are less likely to be in the labour force, compared to those without arthritis. There is no cure – yet – and consequently people must face the challenges and devastating impact of arthritis for the rest of their lives once diagnosed.

Today 6 million Canadians have arthritis – that’s 1 in 5

About 20% of the population 15+ has arthritis or 1 in 5 people. As many as 24,000 children have arthritis. Women are more likely to have arthritis than men. Nearly 60% of people with arthritis are women. 1 in 4 Canadian women and 1 in 6 Canadian men have arthritis. While arthritis affects people of all ages, the likelihood increases with age. Nearly 1 in 2 seniors over 65 have arthritis. People of working age can be affected by arthritis. Over half of people with arthritis are under age 65.

The prevalence of arthritis is on the rise – by 2040, 50% more people will have arthritis

About 24% of the population will have arthritis or 1 in 4. Nearly 60% of women over 65 will have arthritis. These increases will place a further undue burden on healthcare resources.

Source of statistics: The statistics for Canadian adults are drawn from the Status of Arthritis in Canada report (August 2019) developed by the Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit (ACREU) for the Arthritis Society based on an analysis of Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2015-17. These surveys collected self-reported health information from a representative sample of the Canadian population. Unless otherwise noted, data analyzed did not cover the territories, children under 12 years old, people living on reserves, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces. The statistic for Canadian children was estimated by ACREU for the Arthritis Society (September 2013).

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