Lifestyle changes the key to managing arthritis
The Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, today launched the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions in Australia 2005 which provides an overview of arthritis and musculoskeletal disease in the Australian community.
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31 October 2005
Lifestyle changes such a regular exercise, weight loss, improved nutrition and giving up smoking are important management factors for the more than 6 million Australians reported to have arthritis, a musculoskeletal condition or back pain, according to a report launched today by the Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop.
The report, Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions in Australia 2005, prepared by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, provides an overview of these conditions.
"For the first time, we have a report that provides clear information on the extent of a major health issue that impacts on the lives of so many Australians," Ms Bishop said.
"Arthritis encompasses a diverse group of diseases and conditions that involve inflammation of the joints, causing pain, stiffness and disability. Almost 1.2 million people with arthritis are reported to have some form of disability that limits mobility and activity. One of the major preventable risk factors is obesity.
"Osteoarthritis is a problem for nearly 1.4 million Australians - mainly affecting the hands, spine and weight-bearing joints such as hips, knees and ankles. As a progressive disease, over time the pain becomes more severe and incapacitating. Yet it can be prevented with weight control and precautions to avoid sporting injuries, for example.
"Rheumatoid arthritis, the most common autoimmune disease in Australia, affects around 438,000 people - including a large proportion of women. This disease involves inflammation of the joints, most often affecting the hands."
Ms Bishop said the number of people affected and the extent of resulting disability led to Australia’s state and federal health ministers declaring the conditions a National Health Priority Area in July 2002.
"A National Action Plan has been developed to implement relevant strategies and a National Centre for the Monitoring of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions has been established, with $500,000 in Australian Government funding, to conduct regular surveillance and monitoring of the conditions in Australia."
Copies of the report can be obtained from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s website: www.aihw.gov.au
Media contact: Murray Hansen 0417 886 1555
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