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The British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) has launched a SKY Sports campaign which will run at leading rugby and cricket sports events in 2013 to raise awareness that musculoskeletal (MSK) disease is the second greatest cause of disability in the UK and worldwide.

The BSR is working to raise awareness of the burden of musculoskeletal conditions throughout the UK.  New evidence on the global impact of these diseases, published in the Lancet on 15 December 2012, supports the BSR’s and ARMA’s call to make MSK conditions a health priority. These conditions include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back and neck pain, osteoporosis, and soft tissue rheumatism.  They cause pain, physical disability and loss of personal and economic independence.

The global study confirmed that MSK conditions such as arthritis and back pain affect more than 1.7 billion people worldwide, and have the fourth greatest impact on the overall health of the world population, considering both death and disability. This burden has increased by 45% over the last 20 years and will continue to do so unless urgent action is taken, such as ensuring early diagnosis and treatment.

British Society for Rheumatology President Dr Chris Deighton said, “The new data shows that musculoskeletal conditions are an enormous and fast growing problem in all parts of the world. We at the BSR are calling for this set of conditions to be given the same priority by policymakers as other major conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease.”

“Recent research s shows that MSK conditions have been hugely under recognised for their impact on society.   A report by the London School of Economics in 2012 demonstrated that the UK compares poorly with the rest of Europe in early treatment and management. There now needs to be a marked increase in meeting national standards of care and the promotion of prevention activities to match the disease burden.

“So our sports event campaign is aimed at providing awareness to people with joint pain that early action really matters to prevent disability developing.”

Philip Conaghan of the University of Leeds and the British Society for Rheumatology added:
“Whilst MSK conditions differ in how they develop and affect people, we need to see much more public understanding that they are very common, that they can be very painful and disabling if left untreated but that there is always something which can be done to help manage their impact.”

He added: “It is particularly appropriate that sports events are being used to promote the ‘Save our Joints!’ campaign, because for some MSK conditions such as osteoarthritis, impact sports such as rugby can be a factor. All the more important then to ensure greater public education about the right way to take care of our joints, whatever our age, gender or sporting ability!”

The Lancet publication of the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study is available at



Joint Info will be advertised on banners at cricket and rugby super league matches, shown live on Sky Sports 1. By visiting the website, people can find out more about joint pain, the various types of arthritis and the potential benefits of exercise (specifically muscle strengthening). The web page also signposts to other sources of information and advice including advice helplines and other patient resources.

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