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Combating the burden of musculoskeletal conditions
  1. J S Smolen
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor J S Smolen
    Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine III, Medical University Vienna and Lainz Hospital, Vienna, Austria A-1090;

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Alliance against arthritis

Are rheumatic diseases neglected by European politicians and healthcare payers? No other group of disorders affects more people than the conditions that rheumatologists diagnose and treat. No other group of disorders leads to higher prevalence of disability than the ailments rheumatologists look after. No other group of disorders leads to a higher financial burden than the diseases rheumatologists care for.

In a recently published report on the burden of musculoskeletal conditions,1 the director general of the World Health Organisation concluded, that “although the diseases that kill attract much of the public’s attention, musculoskeletal or rheumatic diseases are the major cause of morbidity throughout the world, having a substantial influence on health and quality of life, and inflicting an enormous burden of cost on health systems”. In that publication, the following data are presented: (a) low back pain affects about 80% of people at some time of their life; (b) 40% of people over 70 years of age have osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, with 25% of those with OA …

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