Arthritis expected to increase

TORONTO, July 19, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The already staggering social and economic costs of arthritis in Canada are set to explode during the coming decades, says The Arthritis Society in response to a report released by the Public Health Agency of Canada today.

Life with Arthritis in Canada documents the latest trends and data regarding arthritis among Canadians over the age of 15.

"The devastating impact of arthritis on Canadian society has gone unnoticed in the public arena for too long," said Steven McNair, President and CEO of The Arthritis Society. "This report confirms that arthritis is becoming a major health challenge for Canada, as more people consume more health-care resources to manage their pain and disability. This means we need to step up our efforts to find better treatments and a cure."

Among the report's many findings:

- Arthritis is among the leading causes of disability in Canada, costing the Canadian economy $6.4 billion every year in health-care expenses and lost work days. Long-term disability accounts for two-thirds of that.

- More than four million Canadians aged 15 and older (16 per cent of the population) reported they had arthritis in 2007-2008, with three out of five being under 65. This number is estimated to increase to seven million by 2031.

- Arthritis is the second and third most common chronic condition reported by women and men, respectively.

- Arthritis accounted for six per cent of all hospitalizations in Canada in 2005-2006 (132,000 out of 2.2 million).

-Joint replacements more than doubled in Canada from 2001-2005.

Arthritis affects people of every age, physical condition and ethnic background. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, caused by joint inflammation and degeneration. According to the report, about 60 per cent of Canadians with the disease report difficulties with participating in recreation, leisure, hobbies or social activities.

The Arthritis Society says many of the risk factors associated with arthritis, such as physical inactivity and poor diet, can be modified to reduce pain and increase joint flexibility.

"We hope this report will serve as a wake-up call for people to take control of their disease through a healthy lifestyle and with the benefit of current treatments," added McNair.

Life with Arthritis in Canada brings together data from national population health surveys, provincial physician billing, drug databases, hospital admissions and mortality statistics, among other sources. It was developed in consultation with leaders from the scientific and research community, as well as stakeholder groups such as The Arthritis Society.

About The Arthritis Society

The Arthritis Society ( is Canada's principal health charity empowering the more than four million Canadians with arthritis to live their lives to the fullest through extensive programs and services. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has invested more than $170 million towards arthritis research to develop better treatments and, ultimately, find a cure.