This report provides an overview of the use of health services for the management of arthritis and osteoporosis in Australia. Information has been used to generate profiles of health service use for three specific conditions—osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.
There is considerable variation in the type and extent of health services used and actions taken to manage the three conditions. While the management of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is primarily focused on reducing pain and slowing down disease progression, the focus in the case of osteoporosis is largely on containing its role as a risk factor for fractures and other associated complications.
Almost 1 in 2 Australians with osteoarthritis consulted a GP or a specialist in the 12 months before the 2007–08 National Health Survey (NHS). An estimated 780,000 people sought treatment for their condition during that period.
Osteoarthritis was managed at a rate of 2.8 per 100 GP consultations in 2008–09 (Britt et al. 2009). It was the eighth most managed problem in that year. Analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were the most commonly prescribed medicines for the management of osteoarthritis. Joint replacement was the most common surgical procedure performed to reduce pain and other problems associated with the condition.
More than 4 out of 10 Australians with rheumatoid arthritis reported consulting a GP or a specialist for their condition in the 12 months prior to the 2007–08 NHS. This amounted to an estimated 186,000 people seeking treatment for their problem.
Rheumatoid arthritis was managed by GPs at the rate of 0.4 per 100 encounters in 2008–09 according to the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) survey. NSAIDs and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) were the most commonly prescribed medicines to manage rheumatoid arthritis. A variety of surgical procedures were also performed to keep the joints moving and to prevent deformity due to the condition.
More than 4 out of 10 Australians with osteoporosis consulted a GP or a specialist to manage their condition in the 12 months before the 2007–08 NHS. This equates to an estimated 283,000 people seeking treatment for their problem.
There was a total of 56,095 hospitalisations for osteoporotic fractures of people aged 55 years and over in 2008–09. Of osteoporotic fractures, hip fracture was the most common reason for hospitalisation, followed in order by fractures of the forearm, shoulder and upper arm.