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Bone and Joint Health: The right time for special emphasis, says head of research institute

Release Date: 
Monday, September 27, 2004

ROSEMONT, IL – Stephen Katz, MD, PhD, Director, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS/NIH), in an editorial published in the October edition of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, draws attention to the importance of the United States Bone and Joint Decade (2002-2011), and the need for more physician-scientists to conduct clinical research to address the shortage of physicians in the research pipeline.

Vast numbers of people worldwide suffer from musculoskeletal conditions, as well as a burgeoning number of baby boomers likely to create a surge in numbers, says Dr. Katz. He also highlights research advances in recent years, but underlines the need for further research to lower the expected burden of disease.

One in seven Americans affected by musculoskeletal conditions, which are a leading cause of physician visits. Dr. Katz calls the cost to the United States "a staggering burden."

In his editorial, Dr. Katz draws attention to the need to ensure that advances in knowledge are applied to such clinically important areas as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. One of two women and one in eight men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. It is typically believed that osteoporosis only affects women, and many women consider they are not at risk. As Dr. Katz writes, effecting behavioral changes is key to better bone and joint health. Building bone mass is critical, for example, at an early age. The seeds of osteoporosis are sown in childhood, he says, when calcium deposits are not made in "bone banks."

The Bone and Joint Decade, an international initiative, is championed in the U.S. by a network of more than 90 concerned healthcare professional and patient organizations, as well as over 90 medical schools and colleges of medicine. Musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis, back pain, childhood musculoskeletal conditions, osteoporosis, and trauma, are the number one reason for visiting the doctor. They are debilitating, and frequently the cause of complications leading to more serious conditions, as well as a significant reason for lost workdays and a reduced quality of life. The Bone and Joint Decade’s goals are to raise public awareness, improve patient education, increase research, and improve diagnosis and treatment in order to reduce the burden of disease.

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Reference: Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (JBMR), October issue, Vol. 19 No 10. Available online at Editorial, phone (919) 620-0681 / (202) 267-1161.

U.S. Bone and Joint Decade:
Bone and Joint Decade worldwide:

Toby King
United States Bone and Joint Decade
[email protected]