Rheumatologists - The Bone and Joint Specialists
Kit - Australian Rheumatology Association (Vic Branch)
To facilitate an understanding of issues (as well as providing relevant musculoskeletal statistics) rheumatologists can advise on - please download the ARA (Vic branch) media kit.
A Rheumatologist is a Consultant (specialist) Physician whose field of expertise is in diagnosing, treating and preventing diseases of the joints, muscles and bones.
The impact of arthritis, osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal diseases is huge.
As the professional organisation representing Rheumatologists in Victoria, our priority is to promote awareness and understanding of the discipline of Rheumatology and to promote access to the pool of expertise available.
Our organisation works closely with other groups including General Practitioners and the Arthritis Foundation to enhance the care available for musculoskeletal disease sufferers in the community, and to promote access to information and resources. In particular we are able to respond promptly to offer a balanced perspective about the effectiveness of new and emerging arthritis treatments and thus support individuals and medical practitioners in making informed decisions about such treatments.
Musculoskeletal Disease – Facts and Figures
(from National Health Survey)
• In 1995, almost 5 million Australians (26% of the total population) reported one or more musculoskeletal diseases or conditions.
• A majority of these, 17% of the total population, reported their problem or condition as being long term (of 6 months duration or more).
• Arthritis and back problems were reported most commonly by 15% and 6% of the total population respectively.
• In 1998, about 1.2 million Australians were reported to have a disability due to arthritis or other musculoskeletal disorder. This represents about 1/3 of people with a disability. Such disability has significant impact on core activities such as self-care, mobility and communication and impacts on schooling and employment.
• Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue account for:
11.7% of hospitalisations
11.3% of casualty/outpatient visits
6.0% of day clinic visits
8.9% of consultations with doctors
27.5% of consultations with all health professionals
• 12.7% of persons who took medication were people with a musculoskeletal or connective tissue disorder.
• At $217 million, the new arthritis drug Celecoxib represents the biggest single rebate item for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in the schemes 52 year history.
• The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has estimated that musculoskeletal disease cost Australia $3 billion per annum, the third most costly group of conditions and 9.5% of total health costs.
(from The Burden of Brittle Bones: Costing Osteoporosis in Australia, 2001)
• Already in 2001, nearly two million Australians have osteoporosis related conditions – three quarters of whom are women.
• If nothing is done this will increase to three million people by 2021, with a fracture every 3 ½ minutes.
• Osteoporosis costs $1.9 billion per annum in health costs, with a heavy burden (68%) on hospitals and nursing homes. There are a further $5.6 billion in indirect costs – lost earnings, volunteer carers, modifications and equipment.
• Osteoporosis also cost Australians 25,000 years of healthy life in 2000-01, with over half of these years lost due to premature death, and the remainder due to the disability burden of the disease.
(from The Prevalence, Cost and Disease Burden of Arthritis in Australia, 2001)
• Arthritis affects an estimated 3.1 million people or approximately 16.5% of Australians.
• Almost 60% of all people with arthritis are of working age (15-64 years).
• Arthritis is responsible for nearly 1.8 million days of reduced activity and about 213,000 days off work or school each year in Australia.
• The overall financial cost of arthritis in Australia is enormous – approaching $9 billion in 2000.
• Estimates of the burden of disease – in which the burden is expressed in terms of the years of healthy life lost – indicate that over 80,000 years of healthy life are lost to arthritis every year.