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According to the WHO, by 2020 osteoarthritis will be the fourth leading cause of disability in the world

10 Oct 2013

The Spanish Rheumatology League and Bioibérica Farma have called upon healthcare authorities and the general population to meet the challenge poised by that disease; which currently affects seven million Spaniards.

Osteoarthritis costs healthcare authorities some €4,800 millions per year. Of these costs, 46% are welfare expenditure, 22% lost wages, 13% hospital admissions, and 5% to medicine.

On Saturday, October 12th, we commemorate World Arthritis Day.

Madrid, October 10th, 2013. Osteoarthritis is the most common rheumatic disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) approximately 28% of the population worldwide older than 60 suffers from osteoarthritis-of that percentage, 80% have mobility handicaps. The increase in life expectancy and the ageing of the population will convert osteoarthritis into the fourth most common cause of disability by 2020.

In Spain, the general trend is similar. According to the Spanish Society of Rheumatology, more than 7 million Spaniards older than 20 suffer from knee, hand or back osteoarthritis. This problem costs € 4,800 million per year to the National Healthcare system, or 0.5% of the Spanish GNP. As demonstrated by the data of the ArtRoCad study, 46% of that figure is associated with medical assistance costs, 22% to time off work, 13% to hospital admissions, 7% diagnostic tests and only 5% to medicines.

On the occasion of the Osteoarthritis World Day, commemorated every October 12th, the Spanish Rheumatology League (LIRE) and Bioibérica Farma (a Spanish Biotech company specializing in joint healthcare), join their voices to call upon healthcare authorities and general populations to act against that disease. “Osteoarthritis is not an old people’s disease anymore. Sports practice, certain professional activities or genetics explain why more and more young people suffer from a decrease in their life quality associated with this disease. It is necessary to take preventive measures and launch nationwide plans to improve our treatment of this disease” affirmed Benito Martos, president of LIRE. From Bioibérica, Dr. Josep Verges, medical and scientific director of that company, considered that “patients should not resign themselves- pharmacological treatments have advanced a great deal, and they can improve their quality of life and even delay osteoarthritis progression”.

A disabling disease

Osteoarthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects joints. It causes pain, inflammation and prevents people from performing everyday activities such as opening or closing hands, or walking down stairs. The body parts more susceptible to osteoarthritis are knees (10%), hands (6%) and hips (4%). The most common symptoms are pain when using the affected joint, rigidity in the joint after a period not using it, feelings of numbness or swelling, and cracks or friction when performing a movement.

Specialist first recommend patients some prophylactic measures such as losing weight and a balanced diet, using proper shoes or performing moderate exercise (such as walking on flat terrain or swimming). All these measures might help to improve the disease’s symptoms, but more severe cases will need further treatment: medicines (either anti inflammatory and/or analgesics during acute phases, when pain is more intense) or using chondroprotector drugs (joint protectors such as chondroitin sulphate) that delay osteoarthritis in the long term and improve pain, mobility and can delay the degradation of the joint.

To read further information about rheumatic diseases: