Global year against joint pain


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Sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), this yearlong public awareness campaign focuses on education for health-care professionals and government leaders. It brings attention to a wide variety of ailments and conditions affecting millions of people worldwide.

There are many different types of joint pain—pain related to osteoarthritis, pain after traumatic injury, pain after joint surgery, pain related to inflammatory joint disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, and pain related to crystal deposition in the joints such as gout.

IASP President Rolf-Detlef Treede, Prof., Dr.med., a German neuroscientist at the University of Heidelberg, says, “Pain relief is an important objective for improving the quality of life and daily functioning in patients with diseases involving the joints, in acute conditions such as gout, as well as in chronic conditions where pain often outlasts the normal healing process.”

Throughout the world, the prevalence of joint pain is extensive and the effects debilitating. For example:

  • In the United States, an estimated 52.5 million adults have doctor-diagnosed joint disorders or diseases, and nearly 10 percent of all adults say these conditions, mostly osteoarthritis, limit their activities. Furthermore, a seven-fold increase in joint replacements is projected over the next 15 years due to the increased number of patients with painful osteoarthritis.
  • In a large-scale telephone survey conducted in 15 European countries and Israel to explore the prevalence, severity, treatment, and impact of chronic pain, 19 percent of 46,394 respondents said they had suffered pain for more than six months and had experienced pain in the last month and several times during the last week. Within this group, more than 40 percent reported joint pain, most frequently knee pain.
  • A study in Japan found an alarming prevalence of knee osteoarthritis in the Japanese population. In men and women older than 40, the prevalence of KOA was 42.6% and 62.4%, respectively.

That means 25.3 million people (8.6 million men and 16.7 million women) could be affected by knee osteoarthritis.

The study confirmed that factors such as obesity and occupational activities were associated with knee osteoarthritis.

Lars-Arendt-Nielsen-phot_croppedAccording to Global Year campaign co-chair Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Prof., Dr.med., PhD., of Aalborg University in Denmark: “In addition to the suffering and discomfort associated with joint pain for patients, the problem can exact substantial socio-economical costs for societies. These include lost work days and diminished quality and productivity. Aging populations, sedentary lifestyles, and an increasing propensity toward obesity all mean that the problem of joint pain will continue unabated worldwide.”

Adds co-chair Serge Perrot, Prof., MD, PhD, a pain specialist at Université Paris Descartes: “Chronic joint pain can be manageable, but treatment is often inadequate, and patients may continue to suffer. Indeed, medications are sometimes unsafe, making rehabilitation and physical therapy essential.”

Throughout the coming year, IASP and its chapters will sponsor meetings, symposia, interviews, publications, and other efforts to promote education on issues surrounding joint pain. For more information, visit: www.iasp‐pain.org/GlobalYear.