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Patient empowerment aim of Bone and Joint Decade National Awareness Week 2003 (October 12-20)

Release Date: 
Thursday, October 09, 2003

Responding to the staggering statistics that one in seven Americans is challenged by a bone or joint disorder, that musculoskeletal conditions are the No. 1 reason people visit their doctor, and that an aging population will impose an increasing burden on American society in coming years, attention is focused on patient empowerment during the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade’s National Awareness Week, October 12-20, 2003.

A unique multidisciplinary coalition of healthcare organizations concerned with bone and joint disorders, from orthopaedic surgeons to athletic trainers, and including patient advocacy groups, have come together in a ten-year challenge to lower the burden of disease, and improve the quality of life for those faced with a bone and joint disorder. They are faced with the knowledge that as baby boomers age, the number of people over age 50 is expected to double by the year 2020. They are also faced with the knowledge that the level of research into better diagnosis and treatment options is significantly under-resourced.

In the year 2000, figures put the cost to American society of musculoskeletal disorders at $254 billion annually. This figure is now estimated to be closer to $300 billion. Last year the Arthritis Foundation released figures to show that one in three American adults report an arthritic or chronic joint condition, making arthritis the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States. Osteoporosis, another musculoskeletal condition, is now expected to affect one in two American women.

The Decade’s first goal is to spread awareness of the burden, and encourage the public to learn more about prevention activities and existing treatment options. National Awareness Week is being promoted by the coalition of organizations forming the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade and many of their individual members across the country.

From California to New York, from Florida to Illinois, through hospitals, private clinics, and community events, doctors, nurses and teachers are distributing materials telling the public and patients how they can become empowered and learn more about prevention activities and treatment options.

Nearly all 70 organizations supporting the Decade have patient information web sites, and the public are encouraged to visit them through a clearinghouse of those resources set up by the Decade (at

Among the planned activities during the week, Shriners Hospitals for Children, working with the Pediatric Society of North America and the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation, has launched an informational campaign to heighten awareness of osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease.)

Generally affecting people towards the other end of the age spectrum, and on the heels of an announcement last week that the volume of knee replacements grew 45 percent between 1996 and 2001, while hip replacements grew by 31 percent in the same period, the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons are putting together a documentary called “Total Joint Replacement: A Patient’s Perspective.” A web site about the documentary will be launched during National Awareness Week along with the ultimate compilation of resources for patients challenged with hip and knee conditions.

The U.S. Bone and Joint Decade is part of the international Bone and Joint Decade, supported by the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and over 750 organizations around the world. The U.S. Bone and Joint Decade, officially proclaimed by President Bush, is endorsed by all 50 states and a number of leading medical schools.

Information about National Awareness Week is available at

For more information:
Toby King, United States Bone and Joint Decade
[email protected]