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More Australians hospitalised for musculoskeletal conditions

08 December, 2015

More Australians are being hospitalised from arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal conditions, according to new information released on 3 December 2015 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The release shows that while musculoskeletal conditions are no more common than in 2004-05, there has been a marked increase in hospitalisation rates.

'The overall hospitalisation rate for these types of conditions rose by 13% between 2004-05 and 2013-14,' said AIHW spokesperson Ann Hunt.

'Hospitalisation rates increased across most musculoskeletal conditions, and dramatically across some. For example, osteoarthritis hospitalisation increased by 15%, while rheumatoid arthritis hospitalisation increased by 54%, and juvenile arthritis by 131%.'

The rise in hospitalisation rates for osteoarthritis is mostly related to knee and hip replacements, which increased by 32% and 25% respectively over the decade.

The sharp rise in hospitalisations for juvenile arthritis is partly due to the increased use of biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. These drugs can halt or slow the disease, reducing possible joint destruction and disability associated with juvenile arthritis. They are administered and monitored by specialist rheumatologists, often requiring a hospital stay.

The release also shows that comorbidities-when two or more health conditions occur at the same time-are frequently seen in people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, with cardiovascular disease, back problems, and mental health conditions particularly common.

'Our data show that 50% of people with osteoarthritis and 42% of people with rheumatoid arthritis reported having cardiovascular disease,' Hunt said.

'Studying comorbidities is important, as they can have a significant impact on those affected, making it more difficult for them to self-manage their conditions, and complicating treatment options,'

'For example, physical activity is often an important aspect of treatment for cardiovascular disease, but arthritis often restricts physical activity, which can impede the effectiveness of management options.'

The AIHW's Musculoskeletal conditions compendium contains a range of information and statistics on rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, juvenile arthritis, osteoporosis and back problems. Information covers each condition, who gets it, how it is treated, quality of life, and expenditure.

The release is available at http://www.aihw.gov.au/arthritis-and-musculoskeletal-conditions.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

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