Don’t wait to improve joint health

A different approach to treatment would help the 6.8 million Australians struggling from muscle, bone and joint conditions, a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has found.

Musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis, chronic back pain and osteoporosis cost Australian taxpayers $55 billion every year.

A new report for MOVE (formerly Arthritis Victoria), found that changing approaches to treatment and care could save hundreds of millions of dollars on healthcare and improve patient outcomes.

Australian Physiotherapy Association chief executive officer Cris Massis says there are many things people can do to help themselves.

“Helping people to move, manage pain and maintain a healthy weight will relieve pressure on hospitals and make a real difference to their lives,” he says.

More than 700,000 people have been diagnosed with musculoskeletal conditions since the last report in 2013 – and that number is growing.

Whether walking to the mail box, doing a bit of gardening or running a marathon, the report says keeping physically active and socially connected is critical at all stages of life.

While many people think these are conditions of old age, 60 per cent of people struggling with these conditions are aged between 25–64 years: only 32 per cent of people are older than 65 years, and eight per cent are younger than 24 years.

MOVE research and knowledge manager Ornella Clavisi says it doesn’t matter how old a person is, there are ways to help improve people’s quality of life.

“When people are provided with information and support, they cope better and can still live full lives,” she says.

PwC senior partner James van Smeerdijk says we need a new approach to the way we deal with these conditions.

“At the moment we are spending billions of dollars, and patients are still not getting the best outcomes,” he says.

“If we fund only what works, increase awareness and update our approach to care delivery, it will go a long way towards getting Australians moving.”

Orthopaedic Surgeon and Professor Peter Choong says we need an agile health system funded on evidence-based practice, with movement as a central element of care.

“It’s about having the right treatments, in the right place, at the right time – so patients achieve the best possible quality of life,” he says.

Coinciding with the release of the report, a national public awareness campaign #PainfulTruths is showing why better outcomes are desperately needed for people living with musculoskeletal conditions.

If you are struggling with musculoskeletal pain and fatigue, visit move.org.au

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