Geriatric rheumatology and the epidemiology of musculoskeletal diseases in elderly persons constitute a new field. Although difficult to estimate, the prevalence rate of disabling joint diseases increases as people age. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of joint disease in geriatric patients. Symptomatic OA has a much lower prevalence rate than does radiographic OA. However, symptomatic disease is important in that it may motivate a patient to seek medical attention. The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also increases with advancing age. The onset of RA in both large and small joints in patients older than 60 years is more frequent and begins with greater disease activity as compared to patients younger than 60. Moreover, RA runs a more severe course in older than in younger patients. Thus, epidemiologic data suggest that elderly individuals could be major consumers of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) commonly used in the management of musculoskeletal disorders. The prevalence of these disorders increases with advancing age and, coupled with increasing longevity, poses a growing challenge to practicing physicians in their treatment of these patients.