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Every year at this time, the United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI) raises awareness of the growing problem of bone and joint (musculoskeletal) conditions by promoting the global Bone and Joint Action Week, October 12-20.
This week-long global initiative supports activities focusing on the education and prevention of bone and joint conditions such as: arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, traumatic injuries (sports injuries or automobile accidents), spinal deformity and childhood conditions.
In addition to activities throughout the week, there are five special days during Action Week:
In 2011, when the Baby Boomers started using Medicare, the economic and societal cost of bone and joint health escalated — and is expected to continue rising for decades. 1 The global prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions is predicted to increase greatly due to increasing life expectancy and changes in risk factors unless new treatments and preventive measures are found. 2
Here are some more facts about bone and joint health:
• Currently, 54 percent of adult Americans are affected by musculoskeletal conditions 3
• 33 percent of U.S. adults now require medical care for a musculoskeletal condition. (This was an overall rate of increase of 19 percent over the last decade.) 4
• Musculoskeletal conditions are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability worldwide, affecting hundreds of millions of people. 5
• Musculoskeletal conditions can lead to significant disability plus diminished productivity and quality of life. Treatment and lost wages associated with musculoskeletal diseases, including comorbid conditions, in the U.S. alone was estimated at $874 billion from 2009-2011. (That was equal to 5.73 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, GDP). 6
Being active is a good way to keep your bones and joints working well. As you age, physical activity can help you maintain bone density. For those at any age, exercise can lessen joint pain, keep your weight down, and help your balance so you can avoid slips and falls that may damage your bones and joints. 7
Use strengthening, aerobic, and flexibility exercises. Hate exercise? Then try to incorporate activity into your daily routine: try yard work or a brisk walk. 8
Stay at a healthy weight. The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center says that joint pain is strongly associated with body weight and that: “Being only 10 pounds overweight increases the force on the knee by 30-60 pounds with each step.” 9
Dr. Diane Schneider, author of “The Complete Book of Bone Health” says, “You don’t want to be carrying around extra weight because that’s what’s going to start wearing out your hips and knees.” 10
And speaking of wearing out your hips and knees… what if they do wear out?
If your hip hurts when walking or climbing stairs — and you’ve already tried medication, cortisone shots, physical therapy, and walkers and crutches — you might be considering hip replacement surgery (hip arthroplasty).
The damage from osteoarthritis that may lead to hip replacement usually occurs at the junction of the femoral head (hip “ball”) and acetabulum (socket).
Hip replacement surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States, and may involve a total or partial replacement or simply resurfacing. Hip replacement is generally very safe but can have complications, including that some hip implant devices have been recalled. So, do your research, talk to your doctor about what kind of implant he or she intends to use, and be an informed patient.
If your knee is damaged, painful and no longer stable — and you’ve already tried medication, physical therapy, walking aids, steroids and losing weight — you may be considering knee replacement surgery (knee arthroplasty).
The surgeon may perform either a total or partial knee replacement and install an implant (prosthesis). Knee replacement surgery is considered to be very safe, but there are always some risks and complications, both minor and serious, including that some devices have been recalled. Again, do your research, talk to your doctor about what kind of implant he or she intends to use and be an informed patient.
Visit the USBJI web page to find activities to do and ways to become better informed. Now is the time to raise awareness.
Focus on preserving your own bone and joint health. Start becoming more active. Reduce your weight if you need to do so.
Woolf AD, Pfleger B. Burden of major musculoskeletal conditions. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2003;81:646-656. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2572542/pdf/14710506.pdf. ↩