Arthritis Australia

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Arthritis Australia was founded in 1949 (as the Australian Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation) and is the peak body in Australia for arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions. Arthritis Australia is a charitable not-for-profit organisation, and dedicated to bringing quality of life to all people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions and eliminating their suffering, by

  • providing dignity, support and education for Australians suffering from these conditions and their carers.
  • radically restricting the rate of growth of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions in Australia.
  • being a leader in funding and advocating world class research.
  • being identified as the only independent, arthritis-focused and patient-driven national body in Australia.[1]

Arthritis Australia is supported by affiliate offices in ACT, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.


  • 1 Arthritis in Australia
  • 2 Australian arthritis facts
  • 3 Policy and advocacy campaigns
  • 4 Programs and projects
  • 5 Major activities
    • 5.1
    • 5.2 Frustration with packaging – Ease of Use
  • 6 Research
  • 7 Orthopaedic fellowships
  • 8 Funding
  • 9 Board of directors
  • 10 History
  • 11 Similar organizations
  • 12 About arthritis
  • 13 References
  • 14 External links

Arthritis in Australia[edit]

With an ageing and increasingly obese population, the number of people with arthritis is growing, especially as obesity is the major risk factor for osteoarthritis. Current trends suggest that, by 2050, 7 million Australians will suffer from some form of arthritis.[2]

Arthritis is the major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, with 3.85 million Australians affected at a cost to the Australian economy of more than $23.9 billion each year in medical care and indirect costs, such as loss of earnings and lost production.[3]

There is a widely held belief that arthritis is ‘just a part of getting old’, but it is not a natural part of ageing as 2.4 million of all Australians suffering from the disease are of working age.[4][5]

Australian arthritis facts[edit]

  • Nearly one in six Australians has arthritis. Australians of all ages are affected.[4]
  • Arthritis impacts directly on 3.3 million people, or 15% of the population and indirectly on their businesses, colleagues, friends and family.[3]
  • By 2050, it is projected there will be 7 million Australians with arthritis.[2]
  • Arthritis costs the economy about $26 billion a year.[4] Emotionally and socially, the hidden costs of arthritis are immeasurable
  • Arthritis is the second most common cause of chronic pain and disability in Australia. Nearly 600,000 people have arthritis-related disability.[6]
  • 58% of people diagnosed with arthritis are of working age (25–64 years)
  • Over 5000 children have arthritis in Australia[7]
  • Arthritis was declared a National Health Priority in 2002,
  • There are more than 100 different types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and lupus are some of the most common forms of arthritis

Policy and advocacy campaigns[edit]

Arthritis Australia advocates to government, business, industry and community leaders to improve care, management, support and quality of life for people with arthritis. In addition to developing a consumer led, proactive policy and advocacy agenda, the organisation participates in government consultations and prepare submissions to government agencies on a range of issues affecting people with arthritis.

Programs and projects[edit]

Arthritis Australia develops and supports several programs and projects that:

  • provide support and information to people with arthritis as well as their families and friends
  • promote awareness of the challenges facing people with arthritis across the community, and to leaders in business, industry, and government
  • fund research into potential causes and possible cures as well as better ways to live with arthritis, and/or
  • aim to keep health professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and community nurses informed.

Major activities[edit][edit]

In 2012, Arthritis Australia partnered with the Bupa Health Foundation to create[8] The website creates a tailored management plan for people living with chronic joint pain from osteoarthritis and provides comprehensive information to help them manage their condition and improve their mobility.
The website has four major functions:

  • Screening – an assessment tool to determine the likelihood of osteoarthritis in the hip, knee or hand;
  • Management plan – a summary of evidence-based treatment options for each user’s circumstances;
  • Tracking – weekly check ups allow a user to track their progress over time;
  • Support – website users can create an action plan and get further help for each task.

Frustration with packaging – Ease of Use[edit]

Arthritis Australia established the Ease of Use program to help industries fix issues with hard-to-open packaging. The scheme has tested more than 200 products, including products from Nestlé, Woolworths, Kellogg’s and SPC Ardmona.

Packaging accessibility has become an issue due to two trends: an ageing population with reduced strength and functional limitations, and an increase in “packaging rage” or “wrap rage” – the coined terms for the anger consumers feel when they can’t open packaging.[9] Data from a 2013 Catalyst Research survey showed that one in two Australians have injured themselves opening packaging. Of those, 42% of people suffered a deep cut they treated at home when trying to open packaging.[10]

To assist the packaging industry with these trends, Arthritis Australia developed a variety of tests to assist retailers and manufacturers. One of these tests, the Initial Scientific Review (ISR), was developed as part of a consortium that included Nestlé, NSW Health and Georgia Tech. The ISR report evaluates packaging for ease of opening and accessibility, as well as providing a score based on the Accessibility Benchmarking Scale (ABS). The ABS score estimates the percentage of the population that can open the packaging and allows organisations to compare suppliers. For hospitals, the ISR allows them to work with manufacturers to make modifications to packaging as recommended on the ISR and improve packaging accessibility for hospital patients.[11]


Arthritis Australia strives to further the knowledge of arthritis and to search for cures. Much of Australia Arthritis’s work is directed toward raising funds to provide grants, fellowships and scholarships.
Arthritis Australia awards nearly $1 million in annual funding to researchers engaged in basic and clinical research that aims to further knowledge of arthritis and develop treatments and cures. Grant recipients are mostly early or mid-career scientists and clinicians. One-year fellowships, project grants and scholarships are also offered.

Orthopaedic fellowships[edit]

In keeping with its mission of promoting medical education, Arthritis Australia conducts the Arthritis Australia/Zimmer Biomet Orthopaedic Fellowship Program.[12] The program, supported by Zimmer Biomet Pty Ltd, promotes best practice orthopaedic surgery and is available to Australian and New Zealand institutions and practitioners.


Arthritis Australia relies on community groups, individuals, corporate sponsors and the Australian government for most of its funding.

Board of directors[edit]

The voluntary board of directors of Arthritis Australia is made up of corporate, health and community representatives who are committed to:

  • developing further initiatives for assisting Australians with arthritis
  • restricting the rate of growth of arthritis in Australia
  • ensuring arthritis is on the national agenda, and
  • advocating world class research into the disease


Arthritis Australia, originally named the Australian Rheumatism Council, held its inaugural meeting on 25 May 1949. Its objectives were to:

  • Institute research into causes and means of alleviation of any form of rheumatic condition
  • To establish special facilities for the treatment of rheumatic conditions
  • To endow chairs at appropriate university medical schools
  • To communicate knowledge as to the methods of prevention, alleviation and cure of rheumatic conditions.

In 1968 the name was changed to Australian Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation and in 1984 the foundation incorporated in New South Wales and became the Arthritis Foundation of Australia.

From 1948 through the 1950s, individual physicians who were interested in the management of rheumatic conditions were at disadvantage as there were few facilities at the teaching hospitals. There was also widespread ignorance among the general public as to what could be done for people with arthritis. In 1960 the foundation received a bequest that made it possible for funds to be directed towards facilitating the training of young physicians in the special skills required to treat people with arthritis.

From 1967 to 1982, each state developed an independent arthritis organisation with aims focused on the treatment and rehabilitation facilities in each state. Each state/territory offices operates as an autonomous organisation and all state and territory offices except for Arthritis Victoria are affiliated with Arthritis Australia. Today, the Arthritis Australia state affiliates focus on education for health consumers and health professionals, support the National Arthritis Infoline, distribute information sheets and booklets and run community seminars.

Similar organizations[edit]

  • Arthritis Foundation – USA
  • Arthritis Research UK – UK
  • Arthritis Care – UK
  • The Swedish Rheumatism Association – Sweden
  • The Arthritis Society – Canada
  • Arthritis New Zealand

About arthritis[edit]

Main article: Arthritis

Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically joints where two or more bones meet.

The three most significant – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout – account for more than 95 per cent of cases in Australia. The most common forms of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the whole joint including bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles. It may include inflammation, damage to joint cartilage, bony spurs or deterioration of the ligaments.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes pain and swelling of the joints. The normal role of the body’s immune system is to fight off infections to keep the body healthy. In an autoimmune disease, your immune system starts attacking your own healthy tissues. In RA, the immune system targets the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and joint damage. However larger joints such as the hips and knees can also be affected.
  • Gout is a condition in which small crystals form in and around the joint, causing inflammation, pain and swelling. These crystals are made of one of the body’s normal waste products, uric acid. Normally the body rids itself of extra uric acid through the kidneys into the urine. However this does not happen fast enough in people with gout. This causes uric acid levels to build up and the crystals to form.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a condition that mainly affects the spine. The joints of the neck, back and pelvis become inflamed, causing pain and stiffness. The sacroiliac joints are commonly affected in AS. These joints connect the base of your spine (sacrum) to your pelvis. Other joints, such as the hips and shoulders, can also be involved. AS can also affect other parts of the body, such as the eyes, skin, bowel and lungs. The symptoms of AS usually begin between the ages of 15 and 45 years.
  • Juvenile arthritis includes all types of arthritis that affect people less than 16 years of age. As with adult arthritis, there are different types of juvenile arthritis. It usually takes an arthritis specialist – a rheumatologist – to diagnose this medical condition.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (also called SLE or lupus) is an autoimmune condition. The normal role of the body’s immune system is to fight off infections and diseases to keep you healthy. In an autoimmune disease like lupus, your immune system starts attacking one’s own healthy tissues. For some people lupus may just affect the skin or joints. In other people the lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, brain or other parts of the body may also be affected.
  • Scleroderma – The word scleroderma means “hard skin”. Scleroderma affects the connective tissues of the body (tissues that hold together joints, muscles, blood vessels and internal organs). The connective tissues of people with scleroderma have too much of a protein called collagen. Collagen is important to give connective tissue its strength, but excess collagen causes hardening and tightening of the affected area.

Arthritis-related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of bones, enabling them to move against each another) and surrounding structures. This can result in joint weakness, instability and deformities that can interfere with the most basic daily tasks such as walking, driving a car and preparing food.

Arthritis is not yet curable. While the condition is usually manageable, it invariably impacts on a person’s quality of life and includes varying degrees of discomfort and pain.


  • ^ “Arthritis Australia”. Healthdirect Australia. Retrieved 19 February cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background-image:url(“//”);background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url(“//”);background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:9px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background-image:url(“//”);background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url(“//”);background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:9px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background-image:url(“//”);background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url(“//”);background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:9px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background-image:url(“//”);background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url(“//”);background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:12px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}
  • ^ a b Access Economics 2007. Painful Realities: The economic impact of arthritis in Australia in 2007
  • ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012. Australian Health Survey 2011–13: First Results
  • ^ a b c Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria (2013). A problem worth solving. Elsternwick: Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria.
  • ^ Mellor, Leonie (17 October 2017). “Arthritis patients lack critical help with treatment, report reveals”. ABC News. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  • ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012. 2009 Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia 2009: Profiles of Disability.
  • ^ Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013). A snapshot of juvenile arthritis, January 2013. Bulletin no. 113. Cat. no. AUS 168. Canberra, AIHW.
  • ^
  • ^ Kate Browne. “Wrap rage”. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  • ^ “Good buys with terrible twists”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  • ^
  • ^ Arthritis Australia/Zimmer Biomet Orthopaedic Fellowship Program
  • External links[edit]

    • Official website

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