Arthritis rates increase

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 21, 2008

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Because of the aging of the population, the number of people with arthritis is growing, but better data are needed to track the various subtypes of this disease, according to a pair of papers published in this month's Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Researchers with the National Arthritis Data Workgroup compiled data from various large national surveys. Some 46.4 million people, or 21% of the population, have physician-diagnosed arthritis. Of this group, 27 million have clinical osteoarthritis, and 1.3 million have rheumatoid arthritis. The numbers become less firm for less-known conditions. For example, estimates for spondylarthritides range from 600,000 to 2.4 million, and those for Sjögren's syndrome range from 400,000 to 3.1 million.

The authors are calling for studies that more accurately estimate the prevalence of the less well-known forms of this disease to get a better handle on this health problem. Nearly all of the prevalence numbers were higher than the last paper by the work group in 1998. Experts predict that the number of people with arthritis will grow to 67 million by 2030.

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