According to Dr. David Felson, lead researcher and a professor of medicine at Boston University, those estimates are 68 percent higher than what was previously reported. While the researchers knew that arthritis is common, they did not predict just how common it is.
The previously low numbers are thought to be a result of doctors and patients both missing an arthritis diagnosis, because they do not expect to see or experience it at a younger age.
Dr. Felson and Dr. S. Reza Jafarzadeh, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University, worked to collect data on more than 33,600 men and women who participated in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey in 2015. The researchers looked at official diagnoses of arthritis and self-reported chronic joint symptoms.
A summary of the findings:
- Under 65 years of age, 19 percent of men and almost 17 percent of women reported joint pain despite not having a doctor’s diagnosis of arthritis.
- Overall, in patients under 65 years of age, nearly 30 percent of men and 31 percent of women were determined to have arthritis.
- Prevalence of arthritis in patients 65 years of age or older was 56 percent of men and 69 percent of women.
Arthritis in younger adults is more likely in those who participate in vigorous sports and exercise, or those who are obese. Dr. Felson recommended keeping weight at a healthy level and exercising safely to help prevent arthritis.