Special Topic: The burden of osteoarthritis across all ages
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.
More than 4 million Canadians have osteoarthritis (OA), more than all other types of arthritis combined. About 1 in 7 Canadian adults live with the impact of this progressive, painful disease.
It most certainly is not an “old person’s disease”.
Nearly one third of people with OA report being diagnosed before the age of 45. Expecting to be at the peak of their social and professional lives, these younger adults feel unexpectedly sidelined.
The debilitating impact of OA on younger adults can be similar, or even worse, than on seniors.
Younger adults under 45 with OA report that the disease has a substantial impact on their lives. Nearly one third of younger adults with OA live with severe and frequent joint pain — the same proportion as in older adults with OA over 75. Younger adults with OA also have more trouble with poor sleep and fatigue than older adults with OA, with the greatest impact seen in young women.
OA disrupts the ability to work.
Nearly half (42%) of the working-age population with OA (i.e., 20-64 years old) reports not being in the labour force or in school, compared to less than one fifth (19%) of the general population.
Younger adults with OA live with mental health impacts.
Beyond the physical impact of OA, younger adults with the disease are more than twice as likely to say their mental health isn’t good, compared to their peers in the general population. More than 30 per cent report being diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder as well as OA. Perceiving life as stressful, dissatisfaction with life is more pronounced among younger adults with OA than their peers, or compared to older adults with OA.
These findings shine a light on the unrecognized burden of OA at all ages, including young adulthood. These insights and others were derived from a special report entitled The Burden of Osteoarthritis in Canada (2021) by the Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit (ACREU) commissioned by Arthritis Society Canada. Read a summary of the report for more information [PDF 124kB]. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the full report upon request.
Learn more about osteoarthritis and support for young adults with arthritis.