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Ireland is facing a "tsunami of pain" as osteoarthritis cases are set to double to more than 1.2 million by 2030, a leading expert has revealed.
Increasing life expectancy and rising obesity rates mean that osteoarthritis will affect 28% of the Irish population in 20 years compared to 14% today.
"(We are) facing a tsunami of pain due to osteoarthritis as the number of people over 50 increases dramatically and obesity levels continue to rise,” Professor of Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Leeds Philip Conaghan said.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in Ireland with more than 600,000 people estimated to be living with it. The condition is associated with wear-and-tear of the joints, but it is also linked to many more factors, including obesity, past injury and genetics.
"Action is needed immediately; we have to bust this myth that painful joints are an inevitable part of getting older that we have to put up with." Professor Conaghan added.
The news comes as British charity Arthritis Care revealed results from a new survey, OANation2012, demonstrating that 71% of people with OA are in some form of constant pain due to their condition and 12% say the pain is often ‘unbearable’.
As well as the obvious health implications, arthritis has a major impact on the Irish economy with estimated costs to the state in terms of lost working hours per annum standing at €1.6 billion.
The OANation 2012 survey also found that the average age of diagnosis for OA is now just 57. With more and more people living into their 80s and beyond, this means people with OA may now face the prospect of living with painful joints for over 30 years.
An Arthritis Ireland spokesperson said: “Although these figures paint a bleak picture, it is a common misconception that OA is a natural part of the ageing process which cannot be treated with more than pain relief medication. In reality, there are a wide range of things that people can do to limit the affect of OA, including exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and numerous other self-management techniques.”
Arthritis Ireland runs a series of ‘Living Well with Arthritis’ self management courses throughout the country every year. Anyone interested in signing up can log on to www.arthritisireland.ie or call the Arthritis Ireland Helpline 1890 252 846.
Arthritis affects 1 in 5 people in Ireland – 915,000 people nationwide. There are over 100 different types of arthritis and these can affect people of all ages from babies and toddlers right through to those in their adult years. 60% of people with arthritis are aged under 65 years old.
About Arthritis Ireland:
Little things can make a big difference to a person with arthritis. Difficulty with the little things like making a cup of tea, getting dressed or opening the front door can all add up to have a big impact on a person’s quality of life. At Arthritis Ireland we understand this. That is why we are Ireland’s only organisation working single-mindedly to transform the experience of people living with arthritis and those who care for them. Every day, we work in communities across the country providing community based education programmes to help people effectively manage and control this devastating disease. We actively drive grassroots advocacy so that the voice of people with arthritis is heard and understood and we work with the medical community to control and cure arthritis.
For further information please contact:
Head of Communications, Arthritis Ireland
Ph: 01-6470203 or 086 7952034
Communications Executive, Arthritis Ireland
Ph: 01-6470203 or 087 6245865
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