From the Journals

Osteoarthritis cases projected to balloon over next 30 years




Nearly 600 million people worldwide (7.6% of the world’s population) have osteoarthritis, and numbers are expected to rise starkly by 2050, especially knee/hip disease.


  • Researchers estimated the prevalence of osteoarthritis in 204 countries and territories from 1990 to 2020 and projected prevalence levels for the year 2050.
  • Population-based surveys offered data from 26 countries for knee osteoarthritis, 23 countries for hip osteoarthritis, and 42 countries for hand osteoarthritis. Researchers used U.S. insurance claims to estimate prevalence for other osteoarthritis types.
  • Similar analyses were conducted in 2010 and 2017.


  • Osteoarthritis cases worldwide have grown by an estimated 132.2% since 1990. Population growth and aging were identified as major contributing factors.
  • In 2020, an estimated 595 million people had osteoarthritis. From 2020 to 2050, cases of osteoarthritis in the knee are expected to grow by 74.9%, in the hand by 48.6%, in the hip by 78.6%, and in other locations by 95.1%.
  • Years lived with disability (age-standardized rate) grew from an estimated 233 per 100,000 in 1990 to 255 per 100,000 in 2020, an increase of 9.5%.
  • High body mass index contributed to 20.4% of cases.


In “a major challenge to health systems,” osteoarthritis may affect nearly 1 billion people in 2050.


The Global Burden of Disease 2021 Osteoarthritis Collaborators, led by Jaimie D. Steinmetz, PhD, MSc, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle, conducted the study, which was published in The Lancet Rheumatology.


Limited data, heavy reliance on U.S. insurance data, and other factors may have skewed the results.


The study was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institute of Bone and Joint Research, and the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health. Multiple authors reported numerous disclosures.

A version of this article first appeared on

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