4338.0 - Profiles of Health, Australia, 2011-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/2012  First Issue
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Musculoskeletal conditions, of which arthritis and osteoporosis are the most common, are one of the major causes of chronic pain and disability in Australia.


Arthritis is a musculoskeletal condition in which a person's joints become inflamed, which may result in pain, stiffness, disability and deformity. The symptoms often have a significant impact on everyday life.

In 2011-12, 14.8% of Australians (or around 3.3 million people) had arthritis, with prevalence higher amongst women than men (17.7% compared with 11.8%).

Of persons with arthritis, more than half (55.9%) had osteoarthritis, 13.6% had rheumatoid arthritis, and 37.3% had an unspecified type of arthritis. Note that as it is possible to have more than one type of arthritis, proportions add to more than 100%.

The prevalence of arthritis increased with age, from less than 1% of people aged under 25 years to 52.1% of people aged 75 years and over. Women aged 45 years and over were considerably more likely to have arthritis than men. In particular, at ages 75 years and over, 59.9% of women had arthritis compared with 42.3% of men.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with arthritis, 2011-12

Source(s): Australian Health Survey: First Results


Osteoporosis is a condition of the musculoskeletal system in which a person's bones become fragile and brittle, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Fractures can lead to chronic pain, disability and loss of independence.

In 2011-12, 3.3% of Australians (or around 726,000 people) had osteoporosis. Over the last decade, the proportion of Australians with osteoporosis has increased (up from 1.6% in 2001) but has remained stable since 2007-08.

Osteoporosis was more common amongst women than men, affecting more than twice the proportion of females (5.3% compared with 1.2% of males).

Similar to arthritis, osteoporosis is more common at older ages, with over 1 in 5 women (22.8%) over the age of 65 years having osteoporosis, compared with around 1 in 20 men (5%).

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with osteoporosis, 2011-12

Source(s): Australian Health Survey: First Results

Previous results for arthritis and osteoporosis

National Health Survey 2007–08, 2004–05, 2001, 1995
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2004-05

Other articles on arthritis and osteoporosis

The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008: Health conditions and illness
Aspects of Disability and Health in Australia, 2007-08
Arthritis and Osteoporosis in Australia: A Snapshot, 2007-08
Musculoskeletal Conditions in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05
Changes in health: A snapshot, 2004-05