By Dr Ananya Mandal
According to new estimates the number of people with arthritis is set to soar with predictions that 1,500,000 Scots will be living with the condition by 2030.
The report from charity Arthritis Care puts the rise down to an ageing population and growing obesity problem. The report, OA Nation 2012, said that one in five Scots who are over 50 and overweight will be affected by osteoarthritis, which can cause chronic pain and fatigue. More than half of sufferers will be forced to give up walking as it is too painful, the charity added. At present around 750,000 Scots are arthritic and the charity has warned that the predicted rise will place a further strain on the NHS.
The warning was made after a survey commissioned by the charity showed 71 per cent of the UK's 8.5 million osteoarthritis (OA) sufferers are in some form of constant pain and one in eight describes the pain as often “unbearable”.
Judith Brodie, CEO of Arthritis Care, said, “OA Nation 2012 clearly demonstrates that the individual, economic and societal burden of OA is already enormous, but with an ageing and increasingly obese population the future is looking bleak. We need policy-makers and professionals to take the condition seriously; to implement robust and meaningful strategies to address how OA is treated and managed across the UK and to improve health services.”
Philip Conaghan, professor of musculoskeletal medicine at the University of Leeds, predicted that millions more people would soon be affected by the joint-related illness because of an ageing population and a growing obesity problem. “Britain is facing a tsunami of pain due to osteoarthritis as the number of people over 50 increases dramatically and obesity levels continue to rise,” he said. “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.”
The online survey of 2,001 people with OA, conducted between November and December last year, found the average age of diagnosis was 57 but as many as one in five are now being diagnosed aged younger than 45.
People with OA - which most commonly affects the hips, knees and hands - face £2.6 billion in extra costs a year as a result of paying for medical prescriptions, heating bills and transport costs, the research found. One in five have had to give up work or retire early because of their symptoms. About 140,000 hip and knee replacements a year are performed on the NHS because of OA at a cost of at least £700million.