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Release: Feb. 2, 2000

UI orthopaedic surgeon hopes worldwide initiative will improve musculoskeletal health

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A part of healthy living is keeping one's bones and joints strong. Without these structures, we wouldn't have any form or be able to perform any function.

Bones and joints are so important that professional medical associations, patient advocacy groups, governments, and even the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Pope have declared 2000-2010, "The Bone and Joint Decade."

Stuart L. Weinstein, M.D., University of Iowa professor of orthopaedic surgery, is serving as the chairman of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Task Force on The Bone and Joint Decade. Like the others involved in the observance, Weinstein hopes the global campaign leads to improved quality of life for people with musculoskeletal conditions and helps to advance understanding and treatment of these conditions through research, prevention and education. In the United States alone, musculoskeletal conditions rank first among diseases according to measures of disability and on the basis of visits to physicians' offices. Musculoskeletal conditions are the No. 1 category of reported impairments, according to the National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics in 1995.

Nobody ever really hears about musculoskeletal conditions or their impact on individuals, families and society, Weinstein said.

"Musculoskeletal problems don't get their due because they don't kill you," he explained.

Although the conditions usually are not life threatening, they do have quite an impact. Take a look some recent statistics:

-- One in every seven Americans reported a musculoskeletal impairment.

-- Musculoskeletal conditions and injuries accounted for 130.7 million visits to physicians' offices and hospital outpatient and emergency departments in 1995.

-- During that same year, musculoskeletal conditions were estimated to cost $215 billion in direct and indirect costs.

Despite these alarming figures, expenditures for orthopaedic research had been estimated to total only about $92 million annually, Weinstein said. Of that total, only $16 million is devoted to clinical research.

Over the next 10 years, individuals involved in The Bone and Joint Decade initiative want to raise awareness of the increasing societal impact of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders, empower patients to participate in decisions about their care, increase funding for prevention activities and research, and promote cost-effective prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders.

The issue of bone and joint health will become increasingly important as more and more baby boomers reach the age when musculoskeletal conditions are most prevalent, Weinstein said. Bone and joint disorders account for more than half of all chronic conditions in people over 50 years of age in developed countries and are the most common cause of severe, long-term pain and disability.

To learn more about The Bone and Joint Decade, visit the international web site at or the national web site at

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