Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020) Osteoarthritis, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 27 November 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Osteoarthritis. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 25 August 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoarthritis
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Osteoarthritis [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020 [cited 2022 Nov. 27]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoarthritis
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2020, Osteoarthritis, viewed 27 November 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoarthritis
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Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition characterised by the breakdown of the cartilage that overlies the ends of bones in joints. This results in the bones rubbing together, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion (Figure 1). Osteoarthritis mostly affects the hands, spine and joints such as hips, knees and ankles, and usually gets worse over time.
Source: AIHW 2015.
As osteoarthritis progresses it can become difficult to perform everyday tasks. At first pain is felt during and after activity, but as the condition worsens pain may be felt during minor movements or even at rest. Affected joints may also become swollen and tender which can affect fine motor skills.
Osteoarthritis has no specific cause, however several factors contribute to the onset and progression (Chapman & Valdes 2012), including:
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in Australia. An estimated 2.2 million (9.3%) Australians have this condition, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017–18 National Health Survey (NHS). Osteoarthritis represented over half (62%) of all arthritic conditions in 2017–18 (ABS 2019).
Although osteoarthritis affects people of all ages, the prevalence increases sharply from the age of 45 years. 1 in 5 Australians (22%) over the age of 45 have osteoarthritis. It is most common in adults aged 75 and over, with just over one-third (36%) of people in this age group experiencing the condition (Figure 2).
Osteoarthritis is also more common among females than males, affecting 10% of females compared with 6.1% of males (after adjusting for age).
Note: refers to people who self-reported that they were diagnosed by a doctor or nurse as having osteoarthritis (current and long term) and also people who self-reported having osteoarthritis.
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS 2019 (Data table).
For people aged 45 and over the prevalence of osteoarthritis was slightly lower in Major cities (19%), compared with Inner regional and Outer regional/Remote areas (25% and 23%, respectively).
The prevalence of osteoarthritis was higher for people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas (25%) compared with people in the highest socioeconomic areas (16%). Women had higher rates of osteoarthritis compared with men for all regions and socioeconomic areas (Figure 3).
Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2019. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18, detailed microdata, DataLab. ABS cat no. 4324.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Findings based on AIHW analysis of ABS microdata.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2015. Musculoskeletal fact sheet: Osteoarthritis. Arthritis series no.22. Cat. no. PHE 186. Canberra: AIHW.
Chapman K & Valdes AM 2012. Genetic factors in OA pathogenesis. Bone 51:64–72.
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