Due to growing evidence linking combat service to increased rates of osteoarthritis (OA), the Arthritis Foundation urges federal investment in arthritis research through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), Peer Review Program (PRP) at the Department of Defense. Current research suggests that stresses placed on joints during military training activities, increased rates of injury, and increased weight of military packs have led active duty soldiers and veterans to have twice the rate of OA when compared to non-military populations.
- The number of soldiers medically retired from the Army with at least one musculoskeletal condition increased nearly 10-fold from 2003 to 2009, according to Army statistics.
- OA is the leading cause of disability and medical discharge in active service members under the age of 40.
- Nearly 1/3 of all medical evacuations from Iraq and Afghanistan, from 2004-2007, resulted from musculoskeletal, connective tissue or spinal injuries. This is more than double the number of medical evacuations from combat injuries.
- 1,000,000 joints will be replaced this year alone due to OA.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) strikes at the peak of one’s career (mid-late thirties/forties) and often leads to early retirement and disability.
- RA, which is autoimmune in nature, doubles one's risk of heart disease and diabetes and increases one's risk of stroke by 30%.
A new avenue of research funding for OA and RA could help identify arthritis prior to the onset of symptoms. This research could help identify medical and physical interventions to prevent or minimize joint damage and slow or stop the arthritis disease process before joints are permanently damaged. Targeted research efforts would focus on examining genetic factors, ways to improve diagnosis, screening, and treatment options.
How Your Members of Congress Can Take Action:
The Arthritis Foundation urges Congressional support for the inclusion of “post traumatic osteoarthritis” and “rheumatoid arthritis” in the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) for the Peer Reviewed Research Program in the Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014.
“Arthritis” and “Post traumatic Osteoarthritis” were both included in the CDMRP/PRP for FY2013.
How You Can Take Action:
- Share this issue brief with your friends, family members and community leaders.
- Share the Arthritis Foundation DOD CDMRP letter with your Member of Congress.