Arthritis: a real pain in rural Australia

Friday, 17 October 2014

The National Rural Health Alliance has released a Fact Sheet, jointly prepared with Arthritis Australia, on arthritis in rural Australia.

Arthritis is one of the most common, disabling and costly chronic diseases in Australia, affecting more than three million people of all ages. It is particularly common among rural residents due to a combination of demographic, occupational and lifestyle factors. Rural people are also likely to fare worse with the condition due to limited access to diagnostic, treatment and management services.

Many people think of arthritis as simply part of getting old. However in many cases it can be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle. Frontline health workers in rural areas play an important role in the provision of healthy lifestyle advice, counselling and referrals to appropriate programs.

People living in small towns are less likely to have a local physio, OT or podiatrist, but there is a range of options for them to get the more specialised care they need. These include specialist outreach services, telehealth consultations, nurses trained in the management of arthritis, and patient assisted travel schemes.

Arthritis Australia has also joined forces with consumers, specialists, GPs, health organisations and researchers to develop a 'Time to Move' - a national strategy for preventing, diagnosing and treating three of the commonest forms of arthritis.

World Arthritis Day (12 October 2014) highlighted how important it is to raise awareness of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs). The aim of World Arthritis Day was to influence public policy by making decision-makers aware of the burden of RMDs and the steps that can be taken to ease that burden. It also ensures that all people with RMDs and their caregivers are aware of the support networks available to them.