Prevalence of doctor-diagnosed thumb carpometacarpal joint osteoarthritis: an analysis of Swedish health care

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2014 Jun;66(6):961-5. doi: 10.1002/acr.22250.


Objective: While the prevalence of radiographic thumb carpometacarpal (CMC1) osteoarthritis (OA) is well-described, little is known about clinically symptomatic disease presenting to physicians for care. We sought to determine the prevalence of doctor-diagnosed CMC1 OA.

Methods: Using health care data from Skåne in southern Sweden (population 1.24 million), we identified all adults ages >20 years who consulted a physician at least once and received a diagnosis for CMC1 OA (International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, code M18). Data from the 15-year period 1998–2012 were analyzed. Using cross-referencing with the Swedish population register to exclude subjects who were deceased or had relocated, we obtained point estimates of the proportion of the population consulting for CMC1 OA.

Results: The prevalence of doctor-diagnosed CMC1 OA in adults was estimated at 1.4% (2.2% in women and 0.62% in men). The mean±SD age in the prevalent CMC1 cohort (n=11,111) was 67.7±11.4 years; 78.5% of diagnoses were in women. Prevalence peaked in women ages 70–74 years with an estimate of 5.3% and in men ages 80–84 years with an estimate of 1.7%. Age at initial diagnosis also differed, with women presenting between ages 60–69 years and men presenting between ages 70–79 years.

Conclusion: The clinically important prevalence of CMC1 OA is 3 to 4 times higher in women than men. By the end of2012, more than 1 in 20 elderly women had consulted a physician for CMC1 OA over the last 15 years. The high prevalence of this subset of hand OA is a concern in an aging population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carpometacarpal Joints / pathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis*
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy
  • Physician's Role*
  • Prevalence
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Thumb / pathology*
  • Young Adult