An article written by the APA outlining the effects of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions on the Australian population and economy, and the role of physiotherapy in the management of musculoskeletal health.

Physiotherapy and Musculoskeletal Health

Articles and Advice, Physiotherapyon September 2nd, 2013Comments Off on Physiotherapy and Musculoskeletal Health

Silent epidemic costs Australia $55.1 billion

27 August 2013

New research has shown that arthritis and other musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions cost the country $55.1 billion and affect more Australians than any other National Health Priority Area including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

The alarming research is available in A Problem Worth Solving, the new report by Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria (A&OV), based on analysis by Deloitte Access Economics.

The report found that 6.1 million people, more than a quarter of the population, live with MSK conditions. 58 per cent of those affected by these conditions are aged between 25 and 64, peak income earning years. The cost of lost productivity in Australia was $7.4 billion.

‘Chronic musculoskeletal pain is Australia’s silent epidemic,’ Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) President Marcus Dripps said. ‘Musculoskeletal health is often overlooked on the public health agenda because people are not dying directly from these conditions, but the impact is pervasive.  Musculoskeletal conditions are the most common cause of severe long term pain and physical disability, and as this report shows, this is costing us billions.’

The report highlighted three crucial areas of intervention:
• Direct health costs
• Productivity costs
• Linkages with pain, disability and other chronic diseases (such as cardiovascular, diabetes and mental health problems).

‘Physiotherapists are well placed to tackle these key areas,’ Mr Dripps said. ‘Physiotherapy can reduce overall direct health costs; as long as patients have access to physiotherapy services including physiotherapist led group exercise as a preventative measure.’

Physiotherapy can also play a key role in reducing productivity costs. Physiotherapists can help people in pain return to work by creating a pain management plan and assessing what the worker can do within their physical limitations.‘The reality is that people with these conditions often suffer shocking and persistent pain which impacts their ability to work and socialise, their mental health, and often leads to abuse of pain killers.’ A&OV CEO Linda Martin said. ‘If the conditions are not identified and treated, they can become substantially more disabling over time. From a productivity perspective, it’s vital that employers work with employees to find ways to adapt their roles to retain skills and experience. It can often be as simple as providing a little more flexibility.’ she added

‘Physiotherapists are also well positioned to manage those with pain, disability, and many other chronic diseases mentioned in the report such a cardiovascular disease and diabetes,’ Mr Dripps added. ‘Physical activity and general exercise is listed as key management for these conditions and physiotherapists are best-educated and specifically-trained to provide this. Physiotherapists can work one-on-one patients or provide support to community groups through classes for general exercise, hydrotherapy, cardiorespiratory rehabilitation and diabetes exercise.’

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