Arthritis is a major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, and it is estimated about 4 million Australians are affected by it. Apart from the pain and suffering, arthritis has a huge economic impact and costs the country about $24 billion each year in medical care and indirect costs such as loss of earnings and lost production.
While arthritis is often referred to as a single disease it is in fact an umbrella term for well over a hundred different but related medical conditions – conditions which all involve our bones and muscles and particularly the joints where two or more of our bones meet.
Some of the problems caused by arthritis include pain, stiffness, and inflammation and damage to joint cartilage which can cause weakness in joints, instability and deformities. These effects can make simple tasks like driving a car or preparing food almost impossible for some people living with arthritis.
While there are about 100 forms of arthritis, the three most significant – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout – account for more than 95 per cent of cases in Australia.
Many people living with arthritis are on medicine regimen and you should talk to your pharmacist if you have questions or concerns about your medicine because your pharmacist is your medicines expert. Speaking to your pharmacist can help to ensure you take your medicines properly and get the maximum health benefits from them.
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