Arthritis Facts and Figures

1 in 5 Canadians live with the many impacts of arthritis.

Arthritis impacts many more Canadians – and far more profoundly – than most realize. While numbers only tell part of the story, they can help put the challenge of arthritis in perspective. Explore below to see some of the reasons why arthritis is increasingly one of Canada’s most pressing health concerns.

Click the cards below to reveal more.

Arthritis across Canada

Arthritis is a serious disease that can have devastating impacts on people’s lives.

As the most common long-term health condition in Canada, it places a tremendous burden on the healthcare system and Canadian society at large, as well as the 6 million Canadians who must live with its effects, and their caregivers, families and friends. Arthritis affects Canadians of all ages, all across the country, interfering with both physical and mental health, and diminishing quality of life.

Canada Map - Number of people affected by arthritis in each province

Source: ACREU 2019, based on CCHS 2015-17 (provinces) and CCHS 2015-16 (territories)

How common is arthritis?

Arthritis is more common than many people think.

About 6 million Canadians (1 in 5 adults) have arthritis, and its impacts extend even to their family members, caregivers and friends.

In Canada, arthritis is more common in women than men (1 in 4 women, compared to 1 in 6 men). It can strike people of any age. While it becomes more common at older ages, over half of Canadians with arthritis are younger than 65.

Graph - proportion with arthritis by age group

Arthritis is the most common chronic health condition in Canada.

When asked about long-term, chronic health conditions, more Canadians report living with arthritis than diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke combined.

Graph - Prevalence of chronic health conditions in Canadians

Source: ACREU 2019, based on CCHS 2015-17 (prevalence of arthritis by age) and CCHS 2016 (prevalence of arthritis in comparison to other chronic conditions)

Arthritis on the rise

By 2040, the number of Canadians living with arthritis is expected to grow by 50%.

Arthritis is a serious problem in Canada, and this challenge is constantly growing. As baby boomers age and life expectancies increase, we expect arthritis to be on the rise – with major impacts on individuals, families, and the healthcare system. 

If we don’t take action today, by 2040 the number of Canadians with arthritis will reach a staggering 9 million. The proportion of Canadians with arthritis is expected to grow from 1 in 5 today to 1 in 4 in 2040. 

Source: ACREU 2019, based on CCHS 2015-17

Impact on overall health

People with arthritis report worse general health.

Canadians with arthritis are nearly 4 times as likely to say that their general health isn’t good, compared to those without arthritis.

For many people, it’s not as simple as “just arthritis”. If you have arthritis, you’re more likely to live with other health problems than other Canadians, regardless of your age. That can mean dealing with the symptoms of multiple chronic diseases at once, along with different treatments and side effects.

Nearly 4 out of 5 Canadians with arthritis have at least one other chronic health condition such as back problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, migraine, mood disorders, or anxiety disorders.

Source: ACREU 2019, based on CCHS 2017 (reported general health) and CCHS 2016 (reported additional chronic conditions)

Impact on mental health

People with arthritis report worse mental health.

While arthritis compromises physical health, its impact does not stop there. Canadians with arthritis are nearly twice as likely to say that their mental health isn’t good, compared to those without arthritis.

If you have arthritis, you’re more likely to live with mood or anxiety disorders than other Canadians. Canadians with arthritis are nearly twice as likely to have a mood disorder like depression compared to those without arthritis. They’re also 1.5 times as likely to have an anxiety disorder.

Source: ACREU 2019, based on CCHS 2017

Arthritis and pain

People with arthritis live with pain, and for many, it disrupts their daily lives.

Pain is something that we can all relate to. We try our best to avoid it, and to protect those we love from it. But for people living with arthritis, pain is all too often a part of daily life.

For 40% of Canadians with arthritis, pain is severe enough to limit their activities. This means that significant pain and discomfort disrupts the lives of about 2.4 million people living with arthritis in Canada.

Canadians with arthritis are more than 4 times as likely to live with pain that interferes with their activities, compared to people who don’t live with this devastating chronic disease.

Source: ACREU 2019, based on CCHS 2015

Arthritis and mobility

People with arthritis often struggle with disability in daily life – especially difficulties with mobility.

The ability to move around, get dressed, and go about our daily lives without debilitating pain or stiffness is often taken for granted. But this is not a given for many people with arthritis.

Compared to Canadians without arthritis, those living with this disease are more than 5 times as likely to have difficulties with mobility – their ability to walk, climb steps, and take care of themselves through activities like washing and dressing. This burden is even greater in Canadians younger than 45 years of age.

Source: ACREU 2019, based on CCHS 2017

Arthritis and work

Millions of Canadians have to deal with living and working with arthritis.

Arthritis is a leading cause of disability and work limitations in Canada.

Working-aged Canadians with arthritis are twice as likely to report that they are not participating in the workforce compared to their peers without arthritis. Significantly reduced participation is seen at ages as young as 35 and highlights an increased need for support for starting and staying in work.

Source: ACREU 2019, based on CCHS 2017 data for working-aged Canadians

Status of Arthritis in Canada report

For many years, the Arthritis Society has partnered with the interdisciplinary research team at the Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit (ACREU) to evaluate the prevalence and impact of arthritis in Canada. By learning more about the burden of arthritis on Canadians and the healthcare system, this partnership has helped showcase how to improve support for people living with this disease.

Since its founding in 1991, ACREU has been committed to shedding light on the impact of arthritis on people, their families, the overall population, and how arthritis care is delivered.

The Status of Arthritis in Canada report is prepared by ACREU for the Arthritis Society. The current report (August 2019) is based on an analysis of Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2015, 2016, and 2017 using the most recently available data. These surveys collect self-reported health information from a representative sample of the Canadian population. Unless otherwise noted, data analysed do not cover the territories, children under 12 years old, people living on reserves, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Read the Status of Arthritis in Canada 2019 report [PDF]

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Data source:
These facts and figures are drawn from the Status of Arthritis in Canada report (August 2019) developed by the Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit (ACREU) for the Arthritis Society based on an analysis of Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2015, 2016, and 2017 as noted in footnotes. These surveys collected self-reported health information from a representative sample of the Canadian population. Unless otherwise noted, data analysed did not cover the territories, children under 12 years old, people living on reserves, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.