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Statistics of Osteoarthritis in the UK

26th March 2021

Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint disease that causes gradual destruction of the cartilage in the joint space, it can affect any joint in the body. The condition is marked by progressive decline, in other words, its symptoms worsen over time. The symptoms include pain, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling. Currently, Osteoarthritis has no cure, but its symptoms can be carefully managed.

Statistics of Osteoarthritis in the UK Statistics of Osteoarthritis in the UK

Osteoarthritis is an age-related disease with means one's increases risk as one grows older. Therefore, as life expectancy continues to improve, there has been an attendant increase in the prevalence of the disease. Other risk factors for Osteoarthritis are:female sex, genetic factors, and previous joint injury.

In the UK, Osteoarthritis treatments are covered by the NHS. Although Osteoarthritis treatment is covered by the NHS, it is highly cost intensive. Presently, the NHS spends about ₤10.2 billion on the management of Osteoarthritis and other arthritic conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis annually. This figure is projected to reach ₤116.8 billion in ten years.

A healthy knee joint compared to one with osteoarthritis | OA Knee Pain A healthy knee joint compared to one with osteoarthritis

Prevalence of Osteoarthritis in the UK

10% of adults in the UK have been clinically diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. This is comparable to about 11.5% in the US and a slightly higherglobal prevalence of about 16%. The knee joint is the most common joint affected just as it has been seen globally. This is followed by the hip, the wrist, and the hand, the ankle and foot in that order.

Trends in Osteoarthritis over the Years

The total number of cases of Osteoarthritis in the UK has increased over the years. This was discovered during a study of data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink from 1997 to 2017. However, it is notable that there was a decline in the number of new Osteoarthritis cases within the same period. This decline in new cases is more marked among women than among men. This finding can be explained by the fact that advances in medical knowledge have increased the lifespan of people living with Osteoarthritis, making them live longer with the disease than they used to do.

Elderly couple walking through a meadow with trees in the background | OA Knee Pain The difference in prevalence of Osteoarthritis by gender in the UK

The difference in prevalence of Osteoarthritis by gender in the UK

The prevalence of Osteoarthritis in the UK is higher in women than in men across all age groups. Available data shows that in the UK, Osteoarthritis is rare among people below 30 years. It increases rapidly between the ages of 40-44 for women and 45-49 for men. There is a peaked occurrence between the ages of 75-79 years, at which time the incidence has reached 35% among men and 47% among women. The increased prevalence of Osteoarthritis among women is a global phenomenon. Factors that make women more susceptible to Osteoarthritis include:

  • Fluctuations in hormone levels, especially during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause
  • Increased tendency for women to accumulate excess body weight than men.

What is the variation of Osteoarthritis by counties?

There are notable geographical differences in the distribution of Osteoarthritis in the UK. The highest number of New cases were found in East Midlands and the North East. The lowest numbers were seen in South East England and Ireland. The highest total number of cases were found in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and West Midlands.

Making Sense of the Statistics - What Does This Mean for You?

As you grow older, your risk of developing osteoarthritis increases. The risk is higher if you are female, overweight, or if you have suffered an injury to any of your joints. Losing any excess weight can reduce your chance of developing the disease. It is important to seek medical care as early as one discovers symptoms. Frequent medical check-ups can help detect Osteoarthritis early and prevent uncontrolled disease.

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