The website is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance. All transactions are offline. We apologise for the inconvenience.

The Future Burden of Arthritis in Australia: Projections to 2040

Millennials Face A Painful & Stiff Future

New Report Reveals Generations Hit Hardest with Arthritis

New forecast projections released by Arthritis Australia reveal Millennials are facing a painful and debilitating health crisis by 2040, set to become a demographic significantly impacted by arthritis within Australia’s workforce, with 1 in 6 expected to be suffering from arthritis as they step into what should be their most productive and fulfilling decades.1

Over 5.3 million Australians are predicted to be living with the pain and disability of arthritis by 2040, according to new projections by researchers at Monash University’s School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, marking a sharp 31% increase from today’s figures as the population grows and ages.

This means an average of around 85,000 new cases of arthritis will occur annually. At the heart of this will be osteoarthritis* (OA), but rheumatoid arthritis (RA) isn’t far behind, with cases expected to jump 33% by 2040 or over 12,400 new cases, on average, per year.1

Currently, Australia’s annual direct healthcare expenditure on OA and RA care exceeds $5.26 billion, compared with $3.4 billion spent on diabetesand $2.5 billion on coronary heart disease.3 Without intervention, the figure for arthritis is projected to escalate, potentially surpassing $7.7 billion by 2040 based on the new projections. This excludes wider economic costs, with previous estimates showing arthritis-induced early retirements costs the Government over $1.1 billion annually in welfare and lost tax revenue, and lost GDP of $7.2 billion.4

Figure 1. Projected number of Australians with arthritis to the year 2040
Source: Ackerman et al., 2024

Among the Millennials who face this painful future, women in particular will bear the brunt – OA is projected to be nearly 80% higher among woman than men, with females also far more likely to experience RA and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).1 This will impact women’s overall quality of life and healthcare needs, especially those with inflammatory arthritis during critical life stages: pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause – reflecting an important area of unmet need projected to only worsen in the coming decades.

The forecast rising tide of arthritis cases, especially among Millennials and women, compels us to rethink our approach to arthritis prevention and management for the generations who stand on the precipice of this escalating health challenge,” said Arthritis Australia CEO Jonathan Smithers.

Professor Ilana Ackerman, Monash University, who authored the new report, says “Australians with osteoarthritis currently face major gaps in access to care according to clinical guidelines, which if properly implemented could improve health outcomes while reducing the need for expensive joint replacements.”

“Despite arthritis being one of our most common disease groups, rheumatoid arthritis is particularly misunderstood, with many people unaware that it is an autoimmune disease that causes pain, disability, severe fatigue and brain fog, while also potentially damaging eyes and other organs.5 The complexities of these health issues for patients is compounded by extremely high out of pocket healthcare costs.” says Dr David Liew, Medical Director of Arthritis Australia and a consultant rheumatologist in Melbourne.

“Younger generations, including Millennials, already face considerable mental, emotional and financial pressures alongside these issues. Our healthcare system must adapt to prevent a future where millions are left without adequate support,” Dr Liew adds.

Figure 2. Forecast of rising arthritis cases in Australia
Source: Ackerman et al., 2024

While over $3.5 billion per year is spent on osteoarthritis, overwhelmingly for hip and knee replacements,6 escalating pain and disability from arthritis will have a major impact on the workforce – particularly where people engage in active or standing roles – such as teachers, construction workers, nurses and carers.

“As we look towards 2040, it’s clear the economic and workforce implications of the growing arthritis epidemic could be profound and hit some Australians particularly hard,” adds Jonathan Smithers.

” Research will be vital in improving prevention and cost-effective treatments. We must support Australia’s world leading researchers to make much needed breakthroughs, and ensure we don’t lose the next generation of researchers through underfunding,” Smithers concludes.

Looking to the future

Arthritis Australia proposes three key actions to directly address the challenges posed by arthritis, and alleviate the impact on those affected by arthritis and the broader population:

  1. Resource Allocation and Funding:
    1. Fund affordable access to allied health and multidisciplinary models of care
    2. Unlock health system savings through a major Medical Research Future Fund investment in arthritis and musculoskeletal research
  2. Awareness and Knowledge: challenge the perception of arthritis as an older person’s condition by raising awareness of its prevalence and impact among younger adults and children, promoting early intervention and support.
  3. Education and Inclusion: address the barriers arthritis symptoms pose to daily activities and participation in work and social life, promoting inclusive policies in workplaces, educational settings, and social environments.

Main Projections from the Report:1

  • In 2025, 4.1 million Australians will have arthritis, increasing to 5.39 million by 2040 – a 31% rise with population growth. By 2040, arthritis will affect over 2.1 million men and over 3.2 million women.
  • OA will be the most common type, impacting over 2.3 million people in 2025 and growing to 3.1 million by 2040, a 32% increase. RA numbers will rise from 562,378 in 2025 748,721 thousand by 2040, a 33% increase.
  • JIA will affect about 8,201 children (aged 0-18 years) in 2025, with a slight increase by 2040.

This article is republished from Arthritis Australia‘s media release under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here.

RN Breakfast Interview

Guest: Professor Ilana Ackerman, Monash University’s School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine and lead author of ‘The Future Burden of Arthritis in Australia’

9 News Australia

A warning is being issued as Australian researchers have found that a growing number of millennials are likely to develop arthritis.


*Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease damaging cartilage and other joint structures, leading to pain, swelling, and reduced mobility, commonly affecting knees, hips, hands, and the spine, and is often related to aging or injury.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, causing inflammation in the joints that leads to pain, swelling, and eventually joint deformity, commonly affecting hands and feet.



  1. ‘The future burden of arthritis in Australia: Projections to the year 2040, Arthritis Australia, Feb 2024. Accessed Feb 2024.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘Diabetes: Australian facts’, Dec 2023. Accessed Feb 2024.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘Heart, stroke and vascular disease: Australian facts’, Dec 2023. Accessed Feb 2024.
  4. Schofield DJ, Shrestha RN, Cunich M 2016. Counting the cost: the current and future burden of arthritis. Part 2 Economic Costs. Arthritis Australia 2016
  5. Mayo Clinic, Disease and Conditions. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Accessed Feb 2024.
  6. Health system spending on disease and injury in Australia, 2020-2 https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/health-welfare-expenditure/health-system-spending-on-disease-and-injury-in-au/contents/summary
  7. Accessed February 2023.
  8. Ackerman, I., Gorelik, A., Berkovic, D., & Buchbinder, R. (2024). The Future Burden of Arthritis in Australia:Projections to the year 2040 [Review of The Future Burden of Arthritis in Australia:Projections to the year 2040]. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Arthritis-projection-2040-web-version.pdf

Leave a Reply


No products in the cart.
Skip to content