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Why Is the United States Bone and Joint Initiative Important?

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Impact Statement

Musculoskeletal conditions are reported by U.S. citizens more than any other health condition. It is estimated that these conditions occur in nearly one in two persons over the age of 18 or about 48 percent of the U.S. population. These conditions are also the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability around the world affecting hundreds of millions of people (Burden of Major Musculoskeletal Conditions, Woolf & Pfleger, WHO Bulletin 2003; 81: 646-56).

Musculoskeletal conditions include back pain, arthritis, traumatic injuries, osteoporosis, and childhood conditions. Osteoarthritis is ranked fourth across the globe as a cause for years lived with disability. The prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions are predicted to increase greatly across the globe due to increasing life expectancy, changes in risk factors, and availability of appropriate prevention measures unless actions are taken now.

Musculoskeletal conditions can lead to significant disability, resulting in lost productivity and a substantial impact on quality of life. In 2006, the estimated total cost of treatment and lost wages associated with musculoskeletal diseases in the U.S. alone was $950 billion, equal to 7.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Of all medical conditions, musculoskeletal diseases ranked first in both lost work days and bed days due to health conditions in 2008, accounting for nearly half the total number of days in both categories.

In spite of this high cost, funding for research to reduce the pain and suffering created by these conditions is currently less than 2 percent of the National Institutes of Health budget each year. In 2011, “Baby Boomers” became beneficiaries of Medicare, and the economic and societal cost of bone and joint health is expected to begin an escalation that will endure for decades.

In response to these staggering statistics in all continents and the need to improve the quality of life for these individuals, the global initiative of the Bone and Joint Decade was formally launched at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland in 2000.

Today, 63 national governments and more than 750 patient advocacy and health professional organizations endorse this effort. To further advance the goals of the Decade, more than 60 countries have formed National Action Networks (NAN).

To read more on the Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States, visit www.boneandjointburden.org.

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