Skip to content
Medical Health Aged Care

Millennials Face A Painful & Stiff Future

Arthritis Australia 4 mins read
Issued by Arthritis Australia


Embargoed 06.00am,27th February 2024


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 diabetes2 and $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


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.

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.


Issued by Cube on behalf of Arthritis Australia. For more information, please contact: Anne-Marie Sparrow on 0417 421 560 or Camilla Toft on 0406 698 662.



*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. AIHW. Health system spending on disease and injury in Australia, 2020-2
  7. Accessed February 2023.

About us:

About Arthritis Australia

Arthritis Australia is the peak national body for arthritis, advocating on behalf of over 4 million Australians living with arthritis, and working with many other arthritis organisations to deliver information and support to people living with more than 100 types of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions. We are a leading non-government funder of arthritis research in Australia and advocate for policies, programs and funding initiatives that will improve the health and wellbeing of people living with arthritis. For more information visit:

Contact details:

Issued by Cube on behalf of Arthritis Australia. For more information, please contact: Anne-Marie Sparrow on 0417 421 560 or Camilla Toft on 0406 698 662.


More from this category

  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 20/04/2024
  • 04:30
Dementia Australia

Join us TODAY for Bendigo Memory Walk & Jog

What: Dementia Australia’sBendigoMemory Walk & Jog When: Saturday 20 April, from 8am Who: More than 390 locals participating on the day. People who have been impacted by dementia, their family, friends and carers. Where: Bendigo Botanic Gardens, Bendigo For more information visit: Walk or jog with us. We are in this together. Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated more than 421,000 Australians living with dementia, and the more than 1.6 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people…

  • Contains:
  • Medical Health Aged Care, Science
  • 19/04/2024
  • 15:00
Monash University

Large-scale genetic study finds new link between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the cardiovascular system

New research published today in the journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology sheds light on disease mechanisms common to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Led by Dr Leticia Camargo Tavares, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hypertension Research Laboratory within Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences, the study reveals novel insights into the genetic underpinnings of IBS, offering potential avenues for therapeutic intervention. IBS is one of the most prevalent gastrointestinal disorders globally, affecting up to 10 per cent of the population, with a disproportionate impact on women. It is characterised by a complex range of symptoms…

  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 19/04/2024
  • 11:13
Gilead Sciences Australia

Australian community organisations addressing viral hepatitis receive AU$400,000 via global Gilead ALL4LIVER Grant program

– Gilead Sciences joins forces with World Hepatitis Alliance and experts to drive progress on viral hepatitis elimination targets – – Australian initiatives well represented in Gilead’s US$4 million global fund to empower local communities in the fight against viral hepatitis – Melbourne, Australia, 19 April 2024 – Today, on World Liver Day, Gilead Sciences Australia has announced nine local community organisations addressing viral hepatitis will receive a combined AU$400,000 via the global Gilead ALL4LIVER Grant. The recipients were selected by an independent external review panel of global experts, including the World Hepatitis Alliance. Australia has committed to achieving the…

  • Contains:

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.