How Does Arthritis Impact A Person’s Life?

How to prevent arthritis, arthritis pain relief cream and more! Australians of all ages are susceptible to arthritis, a significant cause of illness, discomfort, and disability. The term “arthritis” is used to describe a variety of inflammatory diseases that affect the bones, muscles, and joints. These conditions frequently cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness in the affected joints. They consist of gout, juvenile arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Osteoarthritis.

How Common Is Arthritis?

Approximately 7.0 million Australians, or 29% of the population, were estimated to have a musculoskeletal condition in 2017–18.

Data from the ABS National Health Survey it is estimated that 3.6 million (15%) Australians suffer from arthritis, which includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and “other type and unknown” (ABS 2018). The two most prevalent types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis:

  • The cartilage that covers the ends of bones in joints deteriorates in osteoarthritis, a chronic condition. Osteoarthritis affects 2.2 million Australians (9.3%), 6.8% of men, and 12% of women (ABS 2018) in the 2017–18 years.
  • An autoimmune disease known as rheumatoid arthritis causes the body’s immune system to attack the tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis affected 456,000 Australians (1.9%), 1.5% of men, and 2.3% of women (ABS 2018) in 2017–18.

Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People

The presence of arthritis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 11%, impacting about 85,600 people, including nearly 8,800 who reside in rural areas (5.9% of the remote Indigenous population), according to data from the ABS 2018-19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS). After adjusting for age, more women (19%) than men (13%), as well as a slightly higher percentage of Indigenous Australians (17%) than non-Indigenous Australians (13%), had arthritis.

Impact Of Arthritis & How to Prevent Arthritis

Arthritis in hand or shoulder is most common and have severe impact on life quality! Because of acute and chronic pain, physical limitations, the management of the condition, and mental health issues, arthritis can significantly negatively impact a person’s quality of life and well-being. Withdrawal from the social, community, and professional activities can result from this situation frequently.

Disease Burden: Arthritis in Hand

Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, and gout are common types of arthritis that significantly increase the risk of disease, pain, and disability in Australia. According to information from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015, musculoskeletal conditions contributed 13% (or roughly 611,300 DALYs) to the overall disease burden. Osteoarthritis accounted for 19%, rheumatoid arthritis for 15%, and gout for 0.9% of the total disease burden. Other musculoskeletal conditions (33%) and “back pain and problems” (32%) were blamed for the remaining load.

Perceived Health Status

Although arthritis can affect anyone at any age, it becomes significantly more common after age 45. The ABS 2017–18 National Health Survey (NHS) found that people with arthritis who are 45 years of age or older are less likely than those without the condition to rate their health as excellent or very good. Conversely, compared to those without arthritis (4.0%), people with arthritis were twice as likely to say their health was poor (11%)


Due to the pain and physical restrictions brought on by the disease, arthritis can significantly negatively impact a person’s physical health. In 2017–18, 66% of people with arthritis over the age of 45 reported “moderate” to “very severe” pain in the previous four weeks; this was about 2.3 times more common than in the general population (24%). (Figure 3). In addition, more than half (45%) of people with arthritis aged 45 and older said their pain had interfered “moderately” to “extremely” with their regular work over the previous four weeks.

Psychological Distress

Both physical and mental health may be impacted by arthritis. Distress can result from the condition’s persistent symptoms and management, leading to mental health problems like anxiety or depression. One in five Australians (22%) with arthritis reported high levels of psychological distress, according to the NHS 2017–18. Those with arthritis (20%) were twice as likely to experience this.

Economic Impact

The Australian economy is significantly impacted by arthritis. The direct financial costs of treating and managing arthritis are higher healthcare costs and greater use of healthcare services (such as general practitioners, specialists, allied health, and pharmaceuticals). 

Additionally, arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions and comorbidities have indirect costs, such as lost productivity, disability support pensions, other welfare payments, early retirement, and caregiving expenses.

The cost of healthcare services for arthritis is high. The cost of arthritis-related medical expenses was estimated to be in 2015–16:

  • Osteoarthritis costs $3.5 billion.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis, $1.2 billion.

The risk of arthritis will increase as an aging population participates in the workforce for longer because musculoskeletal health is crucial for productive and prolonged working life. People with arthritis are more likely to retire early and have lower productivity, which causes an economic loss that is significantly greater than the cost of direct medical care (Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria 2013).

Comorbidities of Arthritis

People who have arthritis frequently also have other long-term conditions and chronic diseases. The simultaneous occurrence of two or more health issues is known as “comorbidity” in this context.

Three out of four (75%) people with arthritis who were 45 years of age or older also had at least one other chronic illness in 2017–18. Even those without arthritis frequently deal with these chronic conditions, but those with arthritis experience them more often. The most frequent comorbidity was back issues (36%), followed by mental and behavioral disorders (30%) and asthma (18%).

Data Notes

Three criteria are used by the National Health Survey (NHS) to determine whether or not a person is counted as having a specific condition: whether the state is current, whether it has persisted for a long time, and whether a doctor diagnosed it. Depending on the situation, a person must have a particular combination of these elements to be considered to have the condition. For instance, once diagnosed, some diseases, like diabetes and HSVD, are considered permanent.

A person is still considered to have the situation even if they stop reporting symptoms. While some states, like depression, asthma, cancer, or back issues, can be chronic, sporadic, or fully remitted. The majority of conditions do not require a medical professional or nurse to have diagnosed the respondent. If the respondent indicated they have the condition, they are counted. The respondent must have received a diagnosis to be estimated in cases where they claimed to have diabetes or HSVD, but the condition was not present at the time of the survey.

Treatment, Management of Arthritis & How to Prevent Arthritis

Primary Health Care & Shoulder Arthritis Exercises

Since there is currently no cure for arthritis, treatments focus on symptom management and enhancing the quality of life. Various healthcare professionals primarily manage arthritis-related conditions in primary healthcare settings. The therapy combines self-management techniques (like diet and shoulder arthritis exercises), informational sessions on managing the disease, physiotherapy, medication (for pain and inflammation), and, as needed, referrals to specialist care. According to survey results, 3.5% of visits to general practitioners in 2015–16 were thought to be for arthritis management.


Medication is primarily used to treat arthritis-related symptoms of pain and inflammation and enhance functioning and quality of life. Remedies can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition and can range from generic over-the-counter analgesics (painkillers) to highly specialized medications. For more details on the drugs used to treat these conditions, see the pages for gout, juvenile arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Osteoarthritis.


When specialized care or surgery is required for conditions related to arthritis, hospitals frequently manage these conditions. In 2017–18, Osteoarthritis (34% of all musculoskeletal hospitalizations) was the most common cause of admission, followed by back pain and issues (23%). Rheumatoid arthritis (1.5%), osteoporosis (1.0%), and gout (1.0%) were other less frequent musculoskeletal hospitalization causes. For more information on hospitalizations related to Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, and gout, visit the relevant pages.


For those with severe arthritic conditions who do not respond to medication and exercise, joint replacement surgery may be necessary. These treatments help the patient’s quality of life by restoring joint function and reducing pain. In Australia, Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent condition requiring hip and knee replacement surgery.

In a Nutshell

Arthritis is Joint inflammation that causes pain and stiffness that can worsen with age.

There are various forms of arthritis, and each has its unique causes, such as wear and tear, infections, and underlying diseases. Pain, swelling, restricted range of motion, and stiffness are some symptoms. Surgery, physical therapy, or medication can sometimes treat symptoms and enhance the quality of life.