In 2017, 12,4% of the population in Switzerland had osteoarthritis or arthritis and 3,8% osteoporosis (medically diagnosed). Overall, musculoskeletal diseases increase with increasing age. For example, 0,4% of 15-24 year-olds have osteoarthritis (or arthritis) compared with 33,4% of 75-year-olds and above. Osteoporosis also rises considerably in the same age categories from 0,0% (15-24 year-olds) to 15,2% (over 75-year-olds). Osteoporosis is much more common among women than it is among men. From the age of 75 onwards, women are seven times more likely to be affected than men of the same age.

This indicator is part of the Monitoring System Addiction and NCD (MonAM) of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

According to the World Health Organization, musculoskeletal diseases are the main factor leading to physical disabilities. They are often accompanied by chronic pain, lead to restrictions in mobility and can contribute to a forced early retirement. In Switzerland, around one sixth of all new IV/AI pensions due to illness find their cause in the bones and the musculoskeletal system.


This indicator was calculated on the basis of data from the Swiss Health Survey (SHS). It shows the percentage of the population aged 15 and over with osteoarthritis/arthritis or osteoporosis.

In 2017, the indicator took into account people who gave an affirmative answer to the following questions in the telephone interview (TKRAN11c, TKRAN11d) of the Swiss Health Survey (SHS):

  • «Was the osteoarthritis/arthritis diagnosed by a doctor or some other person with a medical background?
  • Was the osteoporosis diagnosed by a doctor or some other person with a medical background?»

Interviewees could choose from the following answers: «yes/no/don't know/no answer».

People were also included for osteoporosis if they said they were taking medication for it (question TMEKO44): «I will read you a list of medicines. Please tell me each time, how often you have taken the medicine in the past 7 days: Medication for osteoporosis.»

In the interview before 2017, these questions were asked in writing and also worded differently. For these reasons they cannot be directly compared.

Musculoskeletal diseases affect the muscles, the surrounding tissue, bones and joints. It should be noted that other diseases belong to the group of musculoskeletal diseases that are not included in this indicator (backache, for example). Due to the data currently available, these diseases cannot be identified.

An explanation of socio-demographic variables can be found in the document: Dimension description


Further information

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