Reflecting on Bone & Joint Health National Awareness Week

Each year, Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week is held October 12-20. This annual global event is made up of a series of activities focused on disorders including arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis and trauma. The events and projects organized by individuals and organizations worldwide are designed to raise awareness of prevention, disease management and treatments, as well as advances in a number of areas.

This week is even more relevant when you realize that nearly half of Americans over the age of 18 – about 48 percent – are affected by musculoskeletal (bone and joint) conditions, and bone and joint conditions are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability worldwide, affecting hundreds of millions of people. Unless actions are taken now, the global prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions is predicted to increase greatly due to increasing life expectancy, changes in risk factors and availability of appropriate prevention measures.

Musculoskeletal conditions include back pain, arthritis, traumatic injuries, osteoporosis, and childhood conditions. These conditions can lead to significant disability, plus diminished productivity and quality of life. Treatment and lost wage costs associated with musculoskeletal diseases in the U.S. alone is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions. Since 2011, when “Baby Boomers” became beneficiaries of Medicare, the economic and societal cost of bone and joint health began to escalate and is expected to continue for decades.

One of the organizers of this week is the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI), which seeks to raise awareness and educate the world on the increasing societal impact of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders. They are also helping to empower patients to participate in decisions about their care and treatment. The USBJI also continually seeks and promotes cost-effective prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders.

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