Physiotherapy in the Management of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions

Introduction
‘Arthritis’ is a general term given to a group of conditions that affect the joints in the
body. Arthritis-related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to
joint cartilage.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) contends that physiotherapy is an
essential discipline in the prevention and management of arthritis and musculoskeletal
conditions. The APA supports a multidisciplinary approach to the management of
arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, to which physiotherapy is integral. Numerous
physiotherapy interventions utilised in the management of arthritis and musculoskeletal
conditions are supported by a strong evidence base.
The APA argues that the current Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) arrangements
should be extended to allow universal access for treatment of conditions where there is
research evidence in the peer-reviewed literature, such as knee osteoarthritis.
In July 2002 the Commonwealth Government identified arthritis and musculoskeletal
conditions as the seventh National Health Priority Area (NHPA), with the initial focus on
osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis. The APA strongly supports
these conditions as a National Health Priority Area.
The APA contends that back pain represents a significant burden and also deserves
special attention in this priority area. In 2000–01, back pain contributed almost 19 per
cent of the total health expenditure on arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions (AIHW
2005). In comparison, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis accounted for only 5.3 per
cent and 4.8 percent respectively of this expenditure (AIHW 2005).

Physiotherapy in the Management of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions

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