Joint problems and back pain are worldwide the most common reasons for disability. Among older people osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the main inflammatory and degenerative illnesses associated with a loss of independence and a need for more support in the community or admission to residential care.
Around 15-20% of consultations in primary care are for chronic joint symptoms (CJS).
These chronic, progressive and debilitating diseases inflict serious physical, emotional and economic consequences.
In the US about 25% of the population suffers from CJS. That means 70 million people in the US are affected by CJS. Also, 16 million people in the US are diagnosed with osteoarthritis. On the other hand, RA affects more than 2.9 million Europeans.
Prevalence of osteoarthritis rises with age. In people aged 55-74 the prevalence of OA of the hand is 70%, of the foot 40%, of the knee 10% and of the hip 3%. Below the age of 45 men are affected more often than women, but over the age of 45 women are affected more often.
The population burden of OA and RA will increase over the next years for two reasons: the first is the ageing of the population; secondly, the principal non-genetic risk factor for these pathologies is obesity, and the prevalence of obesity in developed countries is also rising.Continue