Musculoskeletal conditions affect millions
Geneva/Lund, 27 October 2003 - Joint diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, spinal disorders, low back pain, and severe trauma are among 150 musculoskeletal conditions affecting millions of people globally, according to a comprehensive new publication released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Bone and Joint Decade Initiative. ”The Burden of Musculoskeletal Conditions at the Start of the New Millennium" – the first report of its kind – provides both a snapshot of the size of the problem, and a baseline against which to measure the effects of health interventions. The aim is to map out the burden of the most prominent musculoskeletal conditions.
One of the major diseases, osteoporosis, is characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially of the hip, spine, and wrist. Hip fracture is the most costly result as it always requires hospitalization, is fatal in 20% of cases and permanently disables a further 50%. Only 30% recover fully. 1.7 million hip fractures occurred worldwide in 1990; this figure is expected to rise to 6 million by 2050.
"Musculoskeletal conditions are giving rise to enormous health-care expenditures and loss of work. There will be a marked increase in requirements for health care and community support in the coming years," said Dr Catherine Le Galès-Camus, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health.
These debilitating conditions are painful for the individual, lead to the inability to work and to enjoy life fully, and are a cost to societies and countries. The numbers of those affected are set to rise over the next few decades. In the developing world, successful treatment of communicable diseases, combined with a rapid increase in road traffic accidents, will lead to an increase in the burden of musculoskeletal conditions. In industrialized countries, the increasing numbers of elderly people is a key factor in this rise.
Drs Nikolai Khaltaev and Bruce Pfleger from WHO, Professor Lars Lidgren from The Bone and Joint Decade and Anthony Woolf, Professor of Rhumatology in the UK will jointly organize a press conference to launch the report on Monday 27 October at the University of Lund, Sweden.
For articles on related topics, see the Bone and Joint Decade theme issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization