Joint pain: Overview
Pain in the joints
Joint pain is a very common complaint that can have a variety of different aetiologies.1–3
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent reason for chronic joint pain, and its prevalence is continuing to increase year on year.3,4 This condition involves progressive loss of cartilage, changes to the structure and function in the joint, and damage to ligaments and bone.5
Appropriate management of joint pain can help control symptoms and reduce disability.6,7
Joint pain is a common problem
In a global online survey of over 24,000 people across 24 countries, 55% of UK respondents reported that they had experienced joint pain.8*
*These data were derived from the Global Pain Index, a survey which asked people to self-define the pain they had experienced at any point in time.1
Over 8.75 million people aged 45 and over have sought treatment for osteoarthritis in the UK.9
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that, by 2050, 130 million people worldwide will suffer from osteoarthritis.10
Joint pain becomes more common with increasing age and usually starts from late 40’s.11 This is likely to be due to changes as we age e.g. weakening muscles, weight gain and the reduced ability of the body to heal itself.11
Joint pain can be disabling
Joint pain impairs mobility and reduces quality of life12
Pain, inflammation or stiffness in the joints may affect people’s ability to move freely and perform simple daily tasks, and can reduce self-esteem and limit ambitions.1,13 In the UK:9
- Nearly three quarters of people with osteoarthritis report some form of constant pain
- One third of people with osteoarthritis retire early or reduce the hours they work because of the condition
- Around 20% of people with osteoarthritis experience symptoms of depression or anxiety
- The cost of working days lost to the most common forms of arthritis was estimated at £2.58bn in 2017 and is expected to be £3.43bn by 2030
According to the WHO, by 2050, 40 million people will be severely disabled by osteoarthritis.10
Meet Nora and Wendy
Nora is 55 and tries to stay active by gardening and going for walks.
She wakes with joint pain and stiffness each morning, so activity can sometimes be a struggle, but does not want her pain to control her life or her choices.
She wants sustained relief from her pain so she can do the things she enjoys, like walking and spending time with her grandchildren. However, she is concerned about treatment side effects.
Wendy is a 50-year-old who has experienced intermittent knee pain for 5 years. The pain disrupts her sleep and limits her previously active lifestyle and social life making her feel anxious and depressed.
She wants effective relief from her pain so she can return to the activities she used to enjoy, like going to yoga classes with her friends and taking long walks with her dog.
Her doctor recommended weight loss and exercise as a remedy. But chronic pain creates a lack of motivation and she feels her pain prevents her from exercising.
Wendy is frustrated and is looking for a solution that does not involve yet another pill.
Understanding joint pain and osteoarthritis
Helping pharmacy teams manage joint pain effectively
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