Arthritis, 2012

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The term ‘arthritis’ describes many conditions that affect joints, the tissue surrounding joints, and other connective tissue. The most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The resulting pain, stiffness, swelling and/or deformity of the joints can substantially reduce quality of life.Note 1

The arthritis data are based on a question in the Canadian Community Health Survey that asked respondents if they had arthritis, excluding fibromyalgia.

In 2012, 15.4% (4.4 million) of Canadians aged 15 and older reported that they had been diagnosed with arthritis by a health professional (Chart 1).  Since 2007, the rate of arthritisNote 2 for males has remained the same, with 12.1% reporting the condition in 2012.  For females, the rate of arthritis had remained stable from 2007 to 2010 around 19%, and then increased to 21.2% in 2011.Note 3  In 2012, the rate decreased to 18.7%, similar to the level in 2010.

Chart 1

Description for Chart 1

Among both sexes, the percentage reporting arthritis increased with age. Females were more likely than males to have arthritis in all age groups, except those aged 15 to 34 (Chart 2).

Chart 2

Description for Chart 2

Quebec was the only province in which residents reported a rate of arthritis (10.8%) lower than the national average (15.4%).

The proportion of residents aged 15 years and over who reported that they had arthritis that was higher than the national average in:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador (23.6%)
  • Prince Edward Island (19.5%)
  • Nova Scotia (22.7%)
  • New Brunswick (18.5%)
  • Ontario (16.6%)
  • Manitoba (17.8%)
  • Saskatchewan (18.4%)

Residents of the other provinces and the territoriesNote 4 reported rates that were about the same as the national average.

Because of the strong relationship between age and arthritis, a province or territory with a disproportionately ‘younger’ population would be expected to have an arthritis rate below the national average. Conversely, a province or territory with an ‘older’ population should have a higher arthritis rate than the national average. To remove the effect of different age distributions when making provincial comparisons, please refer to the CANSIM table 105-0503 for the age standardized rates.

End notes

  1. The Arthritis Society. (accessed May 10, 2010).
  2. Note that a person has arthritis if they reported that they had been diagnosed with arthritis by a health professional.
  3. In the 2011 French questionnaire, the word "arthrose" was added to the arthritis question as patients tend to associate the word "arthrite" with rheumatoid arthritis and "arthrose" with degenerative arthritis. However, the word “arthrose” was omitted from the question in 2012. As a result, the arthritis estimates for the province of Quebec and subsequently the Canada level were affected. The data for the arthritis indicator in 2011 should be used with caution.
  4. Note that the rate for Nunavut had a coefficient of variation between 16.5% and 33.3; use with caution.


The Arthritis Society (accessed May 10, 2010).

Wilkins, Kathryn. 2004. “Incident arthritis in relation to excess weight.” Health Reports. Vol. 15, no. 1. Fall. Statistics Canada no. 82-003. p. 39–49. (accessed May 10, 2010).

Wilkins, Kathryn. 1999. “Hormone replacement therapy and incident arthritis.” Health Reports. Vol. 11, no. 2. January. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. p. 49–57. (access May 10, 2010).


Additional data from the Canadian Community Health Survey are available from CANSIM tables 105–0501 and 105-0503.

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