Arthritis - September 30, 2016
The cost of arthritis to Australia’s workforce – Time to do something about it

Osteoarthritis effects 3.9 million Australians, costing the economy $24.9 billion. $9.4 billion is lost because people can’t work.

Arthritis can effect many joints in the body. The most common joints are in the spine, knee and hip.

People with arthritis have pain and inflammation in affected joints which often means they can’t participate in normal recreational and work activities. Because people are less active with arthritis, other chronic health conditions including cardiovascular and heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and mental health issues such as depression are more likely to develop.

When someone has arthritis, they are less likely to be in the workforce. When someone has arthritis and three or more other health conditions, there is an 83% chance that person will not be working.

More than 80,000 Australian’s are unable to work due to their arthritis.






Keeping people with arthritis working is difficult. Increasing the number of people with arthritis in the workforce requires effort and cooperation from government, health services and people with arthritis. The financial costs of not keeping more people with arthritis working are too great not to act.

Costs to the country are enormous. So too are costs to the person with arthritis. Retiring early (between 45 and 54 years old) will reduce retirement savings at 65 by more than 80% for both males and females.

There are many safe and effective treatments to help people manage the pain and symptoms caused by arthritis. This can help people stay active, healthier, and remain in workforce. Effective treatments for arthritis include:

  • Exercise
  • Weight loss and diet
  • Simple pain medications such as paracetamol

These treatments should be tailored to each person to optimise their benefits. However, not everyone with arthritis is aware of available treatments or has a plan to manage their arthritis.

A person with arthritis should be encouraged to talk to their general practitioner (GP) or physiotherapist about how best to manage their condition. However, even health professionals do not always know the latest and most up to date information on how best to manage arthritis.

There is often a lag time between when evidence of an effective treatment is discovered and when the patient is made aware of, or offered the treatment in the real world. Alarmingly, this lag is estimated to be approximately 17 years.

Thankfully, Arthritis Australia recently launched a website called ‘My Joint Pain’. The site is free and allows users to:

  • Self-assess their risk of developing arthritis
  • Develop their own tailored management plan
  • Find the most up to date information on arthritis
  • Connect with experts and other people with arthritis

So, if you, a friend, or family member want to learn more about the current or possible impact arthritis might have on your life ability to work, please visit the ‘My Joint Pain’ site.