The Bone and Joint Decade: Raising Awareness

Vicki Health Guide
  • The Bone and Joint Decade spans 2001 through 2010. It features a global health observance that highlights musculoskeletal conditions, accounting for over half the chronic conditions in people over 60. This observance was created and is managed  by a Non-Government Organization (NGO) , a network of 65 countries represented by 750 related associations.

    Musculoskeletal Disorders
    Our musculoskeletal system bones, joints, muscles and connective tissues provides our bodies with stability, protection and movement. Musculoskeletal Disorders affect hundreds of millions around the globe and are the most common cause of disability.

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    There are over 150 musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, and broken bones. There are also more than 6,000 rare diseases that together affect 25 million Americans. A Dutch study noted aging population health care costs for these conditions is among the top five in health care. Living with a disorder for years beyond doubt results in an overwhelming expense.

    Nearly half of adult Americans (48%) are affected by musculoskeletal disorders. As Baby Boomers ease into the Medicare age, they are likely to experience bone or muscle disorders if they haven’t before. As more and more people become affected, awareness becomes vital.

    Many bone and joint disorders restrict movement and often completely interfere with mobility.  Some causes of these disorders are genetics, age, illness and trauma. Trauma itself describes a range of events from sports injuries, auto accidents, to catastrophic natural disasters.

    The Bone and Joint Decade
    There are bone disorders in every country around the world. The pain, the disability and the socio-economic hardship is evident wherever the patient may be, whether it’s a highly industrialized nation or a poor undeveloped region.

    The perception is that musculoskeletal disorders are less important than conditions of the brain or fatal diseases such as cardiovascular, HIV, and  cancer so it is more difficult to obtain funding, media attention or concern of the medical community. For example, approximate funding for cancer is about $3.4 billion, arthritis is $237 million and osteoporosis $137 million.

    The goals of this Decade are to:

    • Raise awareness and educate the world on the increasing societal impact of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders
    • Empower patients to participate in decisions about their care and treatment
    • Increase global funding for prevention activities and treatment research for  World Arthritis Day
    • Continually seek and promote cost-effective prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders.

    Last year, during Bone and Joint Decade, the first ever Global Forum on Trauma Care was held in Brazil. It was to focus on "sustainable and affordable" improvements in trauma care for all countries. Another forum is planned this month. The forum shares information about improvements and new techniques in caring for trauma victims.


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    Every year during the Bone and Joint Decade, a week is designated as National Action Week. The week covers the same dates every year,  October 12 - October 20.

    Goals of National Action Week
    The National Action Week intends to increase awareness through participation of individuals actually affected. The Bone and Joint Decade has instituted a National Action Week the same dates in October every year.  

    During National Action Week for the Bone and Joint Disorder Decade there are activities to further the goal of awareness. During the week, there are days set aside to highlight specific musculoskeletal conditions.

    • October 12 - World Arthritis Day
    • October 16 - World Spine Day
    • October 17 - World Trauma Day
    • October 20 - World Osteoporosis Day

    This is the last year of the Decade of Bone and Joint Disorders. However, there is talk of continuing the sharing among health care professionals working to improve treatment in all countries and regions.


    MSers are familiar with musculoskeletal issues after living with pain in joints, ligaments, and back pain. Many of us live with arthritis and osteoporosis. Any improvement will be welcome.




    Notes and Links:

    The World Health Organization (WHO) description of the Bone and Joint Decade

    Merck offers a nice descriptive article of symptoms and diagnosis of bone and muscle disorders

    Rare Bone Disease Patient Network tells about the 6000 rare disorders that together affect 25 million Americans - that is one in ten

    Pain and MS: Musculoskeletal Pain  my article in the series about pain and MS

    Musculoskeletal System

Published On: October 13, 2010