Osteoarthritis has become increasingly common in recent decades, and authors of a new study say preventive steps are needed to bring numbers under control.
"The disease burden ... is formidable," said co-senior author Dr. Jianhao Lin, of Peking University People's Hospital in China. "Due to population expansion, aging and the epidemic of obesity, one would expect such a burden would increase in the near future."
The chronic joint disease, which causes pain, disability and loss of function, is a major worldwide public health concern, according to the authors.
Their analysis includes data collected as part of an ongoing effort that involves more than 7,000 researchers in more than 156 countries and territories. It found that arthritis cases worldwide rose from 247.5 million in 1990 to 527.8 million in 2019. That's an increase of more than 113%.
Age-adjusted rates of arthritis rose for knee, hip and other joints but decreased for arthritis of the hand.
Arthritis prevalence rose with age and was higher in women than in men. It was also higher in more developed countries.
Arthritis of the knee contributed the most to the overall arthritis burden, while arthritis of the hip had the highest estimated annual percentage increases in most regions, according to the findings published March 2 in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology.
"Primary and secondary prevention, including refraining from overweight or obesity, preventing knee injury, and avoiding heavy repeated joint-loading activities are effective measures in alleviating the burden," Lin said in a journal news release.
"In addition, exercise therapy could delay functional loss and should be recommended as core treatment" for arthritis of the knee, he added.
There's more on osteoarthritis from the Arthritis Society.
SOURCE: Arthritis & Rheumatology, news release, March 2, 2022