Arthritis in Wisconsin Facts

Arthritis by Prevalence

Arthritis is a very common chronic condition in Wisconsin. Based on 2011 survey data, about 25% of Wisconsin adults aged 18 years and older (1 million people) reported they have some form of arthritis. In the U.S., it is 26% of adults. (1)

Arthritis by Characteristics

Although arthritis affects both men and women, women have a higher prevalence rate. In 2011, about 28% of Wisconsin women (583,000) reported arthritis in comparison to 22% of Wisconsin men (450,000).

Arthritis affects people of all races and ethnicities. Of adults with arthritis, 26% are white; 22% are African American; and 20% are of other races.

Of those with arthritis, 41% have limitations in daily activities. Half of adults aged 65 -74 years reported they have arthritis, and 60% of Wisconsinites over 65 years of age have arthritis.

Adults who are overweight or obese are more likely to have arthritis than those of normal weight. Overall, 25% of adults reported arthritis, but arthritis was reported by 36% of those classified as obese and 24% of those classified as overweight. Weight category is based on body mass index (BMI), a measurement based on height and weight. Weight categories are normal, overweight, and obese. A normal weight is a BMI of at least 19 and less than 25; overweight is a BMI of at least 25 and less than 30. Obese is a BMI of 30 or greater. (2)

Over 50% of adults with arthritis reported having diabetes, 57% had heart disease, and 45% had high blood pressure.

An estimated 5,400 Wisconsin children have arthritis.

Arthritis Interventions

Only 13% of adults with arthritis reported they had taken a class to learn to manage their symptoms.

Arthritis Costs

In Wisconsin, costs related to arthritis and rheumatic conditions total nearly $2.4 billion per year. This amount includes $1.5 billion in direct costs (medical expenditures) and $895 million in indirect costs (lost earnings). (3,4)


1. Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, Office of Health Informatics, 2011. CDC revised BRFS data collection methods, and the 2011 information reflects these changes. Prevalence rates are not directly comparable and may be higher than rates in previous years.

2. National Institutes of Health - NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative (PDF, 1.5 MB)

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Impact of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions on the health care system - United States, 1997. MMWR 1999; 48:349-53.

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National and state expenditures and lost earnings attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions - United States, 2003. MMWR 2007; 56:338.

Last Revised: December 9, 2015