This fact sheet summarises information from the AIHW's online musculoskeletal compendium.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition mostly affecting the joints such as hips, knees and ankles. The main symptoms include pain, stiffness and limited joint movement which get worse over time. Normally, healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over one another. In people with osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering the bone ends in the joints breaks down and wears away, causing the bones to rub together, creating pain, swelling and loss of motion.
Based on self-reported data from the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey (2011–12), 1.8 million Australians (8%) reported having osteoarthritis. It is more common in women (10.2%) than men (5.6%). The prevalence of osteoarthritis rises with age. While relatively few younger people have this condition, the prevalence rises sharply from age 45.