A Special Editorial from the National Arthritis Foundation Chair and President:
The Pain of Arthritis
Posted January 18, 2007
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced startling new numbers last week estimating that the costs of arthritis in this country skyrocketed to $128 billion in 2003 -- an increase of $20 billion since 1997. We must launch a serious fight against arthritis now, before our bank accounts are depleted and our joints are too crippled and we are in too much pain to mount a single step.
If mere dollar costs aren’t enough to prompt us and our government into action, then we must recognize that the sheer numbers of people with arthritis in this country are projected to increase dramatically over the next two decades. That chronic ache in your knee, stab of pain when you move your shoulder, or stiffness in your hands or feet when you wake up in the morning are all tell-tell signs that you may be one of the next people to develop serious health problems from conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis inflicts daily pain, robs people of their jobs, ruins their lives, contributes to the development of heart disease and many other health problems, and slowly drains their savings as they try to find ways to pay for much-needed drugs and surgeries to ease their suffering. People of all ages can develop one of the more than 100 diseases that fall under the umbrella of arthritis. This includes very young children who are often devastated by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma.
The Arthritis Foundation is battling arthritis through research, public education, advocacy, and wellness programs aimed at improving the lives of people with arthritis. But we need much more help from people with arthritis and those destined to be the next generation of arthritis sufferers if we are going to reduce the cost and impact that arthritis has on people’s lives.
Progress in our fight against arthritis will require a much more serious investment in arthritis research. We urge the National Institutes of Health to increase its investment in arthritis and musculoskeletal disease research. The NIH annual spending on arthritis research, which now affects more than 46 million Americans, amounts to less than $6 per person with arthritis and has been declining since 2002. Government responds to public demand, and we need your help to demand that your government address the epidemic of arthritis.
Contact your Congressional Representatives asking them to support the Arthritis Prevention Control and Cure Act which provides specific steps toward the prevention, diagnosis, management and care of arthritis. Encourage your elected leaders to vote for initiatives that will improve Medicare and Medicaid coverage of medications and surgeries to treat arthritis.
We need you to help us take action now to help stop arthritis from eroding both our bodies and our bank accounts. You can help.
L. Brunson White, National Arthritis Foundation, Chair
John H. Klippel, M.D., National Arthritis Foundation President and CEO