Not just ‘a Touch of Arthritis’: Tackling osteoarthritis – the UK’s leading cause of pain and disability

Purpose of the report

Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of pain and disability in the UK and an estimated 8.75 million people over the age of 45 have sought treatment for this condition.

Having osteoarthritis can have a serious impact on people’s lives, from people experiencing severe pain and reduced mobility, to impacting on people’s ability to work, sleep, travel, socialise and enjoy their lives.

In this report we set out key findings from an osteoarthritis survey and present new insights from a high-level roundtable with health sector experts.

In order to address the prevalence, the pain and the unmet needs of people with osteoarthritis it is essential to think differently about their care, treatment and support. As Ceri, a person with lived experience of osteoarthritis said: “My conditions affect all of my life – my home life, my social life, my work life. It is not just my physical health which is affected by arthritis, but my mental and emotional health”.

The report makes a series of recommendations around personalisation, innovation and prevention aimed at national bodies, government agencies, and front-line health and care staff.

Click here to view the full 'Not just a touch of arthritis' report (available on Flipsnack).

About the survey

An online survey of 1,041 with people who self-identified as having osteoarthritis was carried out in late 2020.

Data used for the analysis in this publication and the financial support for this publication were provided as a donation from Pfizer Limited.

This report presents the key findings of people’s experiences – both in terms of the substantial impact osteoarthritis has on their lives and their experiences of care treatment and support.

Click here to view the full 'Not just a touch of arthritis' report (available on Flipsnack).
Click here to view the 'Not just a touch of arthritis' report within Microsoft Word (Word, 207 KB).
Click here to view the 'Not just a touch of arthritis' report as a PDF (PDF, 6.85 MB).

The findings

Impact on sleep

  • 6 out of ten (64%) of respondents reported that their condition had a negative impact on their sleep.

Impact of pain

  • Over half of the survey respondents (57%) reported pain from their osteoarthritis as having a ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’ impact on their life, while a worrying one in three (35%) survey respondents reported experiencing pain of a ‘level 7 or above’ on a scale of 0-10, every day.

Impact on work

  • Around six out of 10 people (61%) still working at the time of this survey reported they thought they would have to, or might have to, retire early, as a result of their osteoarthritis while 17% of respondents said they had already retired early.

Mental health

  • In the survey six out of 10 people (62%) reported that their osteoarthritis had a negative impact on their enjoyment of life, while four out of 10 people (45%) reported that their osteoarthritis negatively affected both their levels of anxiety and mental health.
  • People were also worried about the future: almost 8 out of ten people (78%) reported being concerned about how the pain from their arthritis would further impact on their daily life in the years to come.

Financial impact

  • For some people with arthritis, they were spending quite a lot each month on private treatments such as physiotherapy and osteopathy. Those on higher incomes reported paying £100 per month, compared to only one out of ten in the total sample.
  • This is likely to exacerbate health inequalities as those on lower incomes are less likely to spend money to manage their health.

Health inequalities

  • The experiences of living with and managing osteoarthritis are not evenly shared. Women represent more than 60% of population with osteoarthritis, therefore they are disproportionately affected by the pain and disability it can cause.
  • Additionally, people living in the most deprived areas were more likely to report their pain as severe or moderate compared to those living in the least deprived areas.

Click here to view the full 'Not just a touch of arthritis' report (available on Flipsnack).
Click here to view the 'Not just a touch of arthritis' report within Microsoft Word (Word, 207 KB).
Click here to view the 'Not just a touch of arthritis' report as a PDF (PDF, 6.85 MB).