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New approach needed for musculoskeletal conditions

As muscle, bone and joint conditions continue to become more common, new research has found those suffering from musculoskeletal problems could benefit from a different approach to treatment.

The national report released last week was commissioned by MOVE and conducted by PwC, and identifies changes that could improve patient outcomes and treatment costs.

According to the report, musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis, chronic back pain and osteoporosis affect 6.8 million Australians, and cost tax payers $55 billion each year.

PwC senior partner James van Smeerdijk said the rising figures showed a new approach with less surgery and joint replacements was necessary.

“At the moment we are spending billions of dollars, and patients are still not getting the best outcomes,” he said.

“If we fund only what works, increase awareness and update our approach to care delivery, it will go a long way towards getting Australians moving.”

The report identified the best preventative treatment as physical activity for all ages – whether it be training for a marathon and hitting the gym or a less strenuous activity like gardening or walking to the mailbox.

Report recommendations included: movement therapy as first line of care, increase osteoporosis screening, faster referral to specialist services, remove unnecessary interventions, update approach to delivery of care, increase awareness, and fund only what works.

Australian Physiotherapy Association chief executive Cris Massis said there were many things people could do to help themselves and reduce the severity of their condition.

“Helping people to move, manage pain and maintain a healthy weight will relieve pressure on hospitals and make a real difference to their lives,” she said.

To coincide with the release of the report, a national public awareness campaign – #PainfulTruths – was also launched to show why better outcomes are urgently needed for those living with musculoskeletal conditions.

More than 700,000 residents had been diagnosed with musculoskeletal conditions since the last report in 2013.

For the full report, click here.

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