By: 31 May 2013

People in the UK living with a range of rheumatological musculoskeletal conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and non-diagnosed back pain are becoming unnecessarily disabled on a huge scale through the lack of priority shown to these common and often treatable disorders.
A major study analysing the findings of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, published in The Lancet, finds that compared with developed countries with similar economies, the UK ranks a mere 12 out of 19. The research found that rheumatological musculoskeletal conditions form a major part of the growing burden of disability of people in this country and that more needs to be done to address this.
British Society for Rheumatology President Dr Chris Deighton said: “Rheumatological musculoskeletal conditions are a huge burden on society and have a major personal, social and economic impact. This new study shows we could be doing so much better. We at the British Society for Rheumatology are calling for this set of conditions to be given the same priority by policymakers and commissioners as other major conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease.“
The data coming out of the Global Burden of Disease Study echoes other recent research which shows that rheumatological musculoskeletal conditions have been under-recognised for their impact on the UK population. A report by the London School of Economics in 2012 demonstrated that compared with the rest of Europe, the UK performs poorly in terms of early treatment and management of rheumatological and musculoskeletal conditions.
Laura Guest, the British Society for Rheumatology’s Chief Executive, said: “It is vital that more is done to prevent unnecessary disability including early diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis and screening for certain conditions such as osteoporosis to reduce falls and fractures. We need to do more to prioritise rheumatology services if the UK is not to continue languishing at the bottom of European health league tables.“