June 2001 Bulletin

Global impact of musculoskeletal conditions is huge, growing

Musculoskeletal conditions have an enormous and growing impact worldwide, but national health care priorities in the United Kingdom and most European countries do not include musculoskeletal conditions, according to authors of an editorial in the May 5 issue of the British Journal of Medicine.

Anthony D. Woolf, professor of rheumatology, Royal Cornwall Hospital, U.K., and Kristina Åkesson, associate professor, department of orthopaedics, Malmö University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden, observe that to address this imbalance the United Nation, the World Health Organization, governments, and professional and patients’ organizations throughout the world have declared 2000-2010 the Bone and Joint Decade.

The authors provide an overview of the impact of musculoskeletal conditions:

Musculoskeletal impairments rank number one in chronic impairments in the United States.

Chronic musculoskeletal pain is reported in surveys by 1 in 4 people in both less and more developed countries.

Musculoskeletal conditions were the most expensive disease category in a Swedish cost of illness study, representing 22.6 percent of the total cost of illness.

Measured in terms of disability adjusted life years, osteoarthritis is the fourth most frequent predicted cause of health problems worldwide in women and the eighth in men.

Fractures related to osteoporosis will be sustained by about 40 percent of all white women aged over 50.

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