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Arthritis, the leading cause of disability among Americans over 15 years of age, comprises more than 100 different diseases that affect areas in or around the joints.1 The most common type is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain and loss of movement due to deterioration in the cartilage covering the ends of bones in the joints. Other types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus arthritis, gout, and fibromyalgia.

In 2004, over 20 percent of U.S. adults reported that they had ever been diagnosed with arthritis. Arthritis was more common in women than men, and rates of arthritis increased dramatically with age for both sexes. Less than 10 percent of women 18 to 44 years of age had been diagnosed with arthritis, compared to 60 percent of women 75 years and older.

Rates of arthritis among women varied by race and ethnicity. It was most common among non-Hispanic White women (279.4 per 1,000 women), followed by non-Hispanic Black women (225.2 per 1,000); Asian women had the lowest rates of arthritis (128.2 per 1,000). The high rate among non-Hispanic White women may be due to the older age distribution of this population.

1 Arthritis Foundation. The facts about arthritis. 2004.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.