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Musculoskeletal conditions are conditions of the bones, muscles and their attachments (e.g. joints and ligaments). They are the most common chronic conditions in Australia and predominantly managed in primary health care settings, a setting for which there are currently limited national data.
Back pain and problems are caused by numerous factors including muscle strain or displacement of an intervertebral disc. These may result from an underlying illness or injury.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition affecting weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees and ankles as well as the hands and spine. In the initial stages pain occurs in the joints during and after activity, but as the condition progresses pain may be experienced from minimal movement or during rest.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease causing chronic inflammation of the joints. It most commonly affects the hand joints and can lead to deformities of the hands.
Osteoporosis is a condition where there is a progressive loss of bone density and decrease in the strength of the skeleton with a resultant risk of fracture.
Juvenile arthritis refers to the types of arthritis occurring in children under 16 years of age. It may cause significant pain, disability and restrictions in school and other activities.
Additional resources for all conditions (including factsheets and PowerPoint slides).
This information was last updated in May 2015.
of Australians have arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. That's around 6.1 million people.
of Australians (3.0 million) are affected by back problems, followed by 8% with osteoarthritis (1.8 million), 3% with osteoporosis (728,000) and 2% with rheumatoid arthritis (445,000) according to 2011–12 self-reported estimates.
Australians self-reported having arthritis in 2011–12—2 million women compared to 1.3 million men.
was spent on Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions in 2008–09. Of this, $1,637 million was spent on osteoarthritis, $1,177 million on back problems, $355 million on rheumatoid arthritis and $305 million on osteoporosis.
rise in total knee replacements for osteoarthritis from 2003–04 to 2012–13. There was a 17% rise in total hip replacements over the same period.
People (20%) with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions self-reported fair or poor health, compared to 1 in 10 people (10%) without these conditions.
According to the Global Burden of Disease estimates, low back pain is ranked first in Australasia (including Australia and New Zealand), compared to sixth in the world. Neck pain is ranked 10th compared to 21st in the world, and osteoarthritis is ranked 23rd compared to 38th in the world.
AIHW arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions publications
The National Centre for Monitoring Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions (the Centre) was established at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in 2005 to undertake surveillance and monitoring of arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions in Australia. The Centre is a source of statistical information about various types of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions and their associated problems in Australia. The Centre is funded by the Department of Health.
Contact the National Centre for Monitoring Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions
Tel: 02 6244 1000
Email: ncmamsc [at] aihw [dot] gov [dot] au.