For the most up to date information on COVID-19 please visit the Department of Health website. Learn more about how the AIHW is assisting the COVID-19 response and how our other work is affected. Our Covid-19 related resources page includes a list of some existing resources which may be useful when researching issues related to COVID-19.
A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) highlights how important early diagnosis and medical intervention are in treating rheumatoid arthritis.
'Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects around 400,000 Australians,' said Tracy Dixon of the AIHW's Respiratory and Musculoskeletal Diseases Unit.
'The disease is more common among females and in older age groups and, if left untreated, can cause joint damage and deformities, especially of the hands,' she said.
The disease can also reduce a person's capacity to work, with only 31% of those affected in full-time employment in 2004-05 compared with 53% of the general population.
'Medications that help the immune system to fight rheumatoid arthritis, reducing inflammation and further joint damage, improve the prospect for patients with rheumatoid arthritis,' President of the Australian Rheumatology Association, Dr Geoffrey McColl said.
'Education to help people self-manage the disease also plays an important role in achieving the best outcome,' he added.
Although management of rheumatoid arthritis centres around medication, other therapies including exercise, massage and water therapy are useful. Occupational therapy and surgery can also be helpful.
The report, A picture of rheumatoid arthritis in Australia, uses the most recent information available to provide a concise, easy to read booklet about rheumatoid arthritis, supported by up to date statistical information.
The booklet has been prepared jointly by the AIHW, Arthritis Australia, the Australian Rheumatology Association and the Department of Health and Ageing. It is the last in a series of three booklets about musculoskeletal diseases, intended for the general public.
The series will soon be available in most public libraries across Australia.
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.
The browser you are using to browse this website is outdated and some features may not display properly or be accessible to you. Please use a more recent browser for the best user experience.