Leading experts, who have concluded that the incidence of musculoskeletal conditions is increasing at such an alarming rate that it is set to affect three times more of us than cancer by 2030[i], are calling for urgent steps to be taken to protect the mobility and wellbeing of an ageing population.
Commenting in a new Joint Health of the Nation Report recently released, musculoskeletal experts and patient organisations warn that the burden of joint health problems is set to place an unprecedented strain on society and an already overstretched NHS.
Experts predict that 7 million more people in the UK will suffer from arthritis by 2030, taking the total number of arthritis suffers to 17 million[ii]. According to Arthritis Research UK, musculoskeletal conditions already account for the third largest area of NHS programme spending at £4.7 billion and results in 30 million lost working days each year[iii].
Chair of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) Professor Anthony Woolf comments; “To reduce the burden of osteoarthritis on individuals and the health care system, we need to help people to maintain and protect their joints and avoid medical intervention.”
To reduce the burden of joint health conditions, and improve quality of life for sufferers the Report calls for the following ‘FIVE STEPS’ to be implemented:
Tailored prevention programmes
Speed up referrals and access to treatment
As Trustee of Primary Care Rheumatology Society (PCR) Dr Alastair Dickson highlights; “The majority of arthritis is managed in primary care. There is a growing need to develop in-house musculoskeletal primary care teams that work with mental health and social care to deliver the 5 steps in the Report. These 5 steps fit with the recently published 10 year NHS plan aims of preventing development of disease through earlier, community-based management.”
Self-management and tailored prevention programmes can play a key role in the early intervention of joint health conditions, helping to reduce the burden on sufferers and society. Simple lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, can have a key impact on the long-term health of joints.
Consultant Rheumatologist Dr Rod Hughes comments; “As a nation we tend to ignore our joints until they cause us problems resulting in an increasing number of people taking long-term analgesics to control the pain or needing surgery to repair knees and hips. Adding a clinically proven joint specific supplement such as the galactolipid GOPO® to your diet has been shown to help protect and repair joints and should certainly be considered at the early onset of even mild joint pain or after joint injury.”