4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/12/2018   
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Arthritis refers to a range of musculoskeletal conditions where a person's joints become inflamed, which may result in pain, stiffness, disability or deformity. These symptoms can have a significant impact on a person's everyday functioning[1].


In 2017-18, one in seven Australians (15.0% or 3.6 million people) had arthritis. The prevalence was higher in females than in males (17.9% compared with 12.1%) and has remained constant since 2004-05.

Almost two-thirds (62.0%) of people who had arthritis had osteoarthritis (deterioration of cartilage inside a joint). One in eight people (12.7%) with arthritis had rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease in which the body is attacked by bacteria or viruses), and one third (32.7%) had an unspecified form. It is possible to have more than one type of arthritis, therefore proportions add to greater than 100%.

The prevalence of arthritis increases with age, particularly for females. The proportion of females under the age of 45 with arthritis in 2017-18 was 2.7%. By age 55-64, this had increased to 39.6% and to 57.3% for 65 years and over. For males, the rate for under the age of 45 was 2.3%, this steadily increased to 28.0% for 55-64 year olds and 39.9% for 65 years and over.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with arthritis, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18


Osteoporosis is a condition where a person's bones become fragile and brittle, with an increased risk of fractures. Fractures can result in chronic pain, disability or loss of independence[2].


In 2017-18, 924,000 Australians (3.8%) had osteoporosis. This was similar to 2014-15 (3.5%).

Similar to arthritis, osteoporosis was more common amongst females than males (6.2% prevalence compared with 1.5%), and more common in older age groups. The increase in older age groups was more apparent and began earlier in females than in males. For females, there was an increase in the proportion who had osteoporosis starting at the 45-54 year age group, with continuous increases with each successive age group. The first increase for males, in contrast, was in the 55-64 year age group, with no further increases until 75 years and over. Females aged 75 years and over were almost three times more likely than males to have osteoporosis (29.0% compared with 10.3%).

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with osteoporosis, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18


1 Arthritis Australia, 'What is arthritis?', <https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/what-is-arthritis/>; last accessed 30/11/2018
2 Osteoporosis Australia, What you need to know about Osteoporosis - 4th Edition, June 2017 <https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/sites/default/files/files/OA%20Consumer%20Guide%204th%20Edition.pdf>; last accessed 30/11/2018