‘Alarming’ rise in joint problems placing strain on NHS

Research identifies cause of IBS pain as 'gut itch'

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. This has led prominent health experts to call for urgent steps to be taken to protect the mobility and wellbeing of an ageing population.

Responding to a new ‘Joint Health of the Nation Report’ , musculoskeletal experts and patient organisations are warning that the burden of joint health problems is set to place an unprecedented strain on society and an already overstretched NHS.

According to Arthritis Research UK, musculoskeletal conditions already account for the third largest area of NHS programme spending at £4.7 billion. These conditions result in 30 million lost working days each year.

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.

In order 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:

1. Self-management

2. Tailored prevention programmes

3. Earlier intervention

4. Psychological support

5. Speed up referrals and access to treatment.

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.

Chair of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) Professor Anthony Woolf, said:  “To reduce the burden of osteoarthritis on individuals and the healthcare system, we need to help people know how to look after their musculoskeletal health better. Pharmacists can play a key role in encouraging and supporting people to seek advice about self-management before seeking treatment.”

Elizabeth Hughes-Gapper, Product Manager of GOPO® Joint Health at Lanes Health, said:
“We’re delighted that this new report highlights the need to place self-care and awareness at the forefront of maintaining joint health. The Report aligns with Public Health England’s 2019 green paper and the NHS’s long-term plan, in which prevention will be central.

“Pharmacists have a key role to play in supporting a proactive approach to treating joint health, and consider all options including supplements.”