The socio-economic cost of osteoarthritis progresses in parallel with the prevalence of the disease

Editorial of 03/01/2013

The socio-economic cost of osteoarthritis is very high. The economic analyses conducted in both France and the United States are clear: the ageing of the population largely explains the progressive increase in health expenditure related to osteoarthritis. In France, the COART study refers to this. It reveals a significant increase in the cost of osteoarthritis between 1993 and 2002. In 10 years, the direct costs (consultations, prescriptions and hospitalisations) have increased from under one billion euros to 1.6 billion euros. At the same time, the increasing number of osteoarthritis patients undergoing treatment has increased by 54%.

In 2002, 13.4 million consultations and 18 million prescriptions cost as much as hospitalisations. These direct costs accounted for 90% of the financial burden of the disease. Indirect costs (10%) corresponded to the per diem 5 million days of work stoppage caused by osteoarthritis. Given the ageing population, the increasing prevalence of obesity and increasing amateur practice of sports, everything suggests that these costs have continued to increase over the past 10 years in our country.
In the United States, the findings are quite similar. The increasing prevalence of osteoarthritis is associated with the progression of two major risk factors: age and obesity. Fifty percent of direct costs can be attributed to hospitalisations, but they concern only 5% of patients and correspond to the placing of prostheses (hip and knee).

Prevention of obesity and traumatic injury (and micro-trauma) to limbs is one way to limit the growth of health spending related to osteoarthritis.

- Le Pen C, Reygrobellet C, Gérentes I. : Financial cost of osteoarthritis in France. The "COART" France study. Joint Bone Spine. 2005 Dec;72(6):567-70.
- Bitton R. : The economic burden of osteoarthritis. Am J Manag Care. 2009 Sep;15(8 Suppl):S230-5.

Arthrolink Editorial Committee