Document paper Orthopaedic

Bones & Joints

The MedTech industry develops joint replacement products that reduce the burden of musculoskeletal diseases on individuals, families and the wider economy. These innovations improve quality of life and add enormous value to European society.

Orthopaedic disorders, which affect bones and joints, are the single largest source of pain and disability globally. The World Health Organisation says that such diseases are responsible for half the chronic conditions affecting people over 50 in the developing world.

In fact, bone and joint conditions are the major cause of years lived with disability in all continents and economies, and are the most common medical causes of long-term absence from work. In Sweden, up to 60% of people on early retirement or long-term sick leave cite musculoskeletal problems as the reason1.

‘Musculoskeletal conditions are a major burden on individuals, health systems, and social care systems, with indirect costs being predominant.’ – World Health Organisation

The unavoidable process of ageing leads to wear and tear on weight-bearing joints such as hips and knees. In other words, the joints in question are simply worn out.

These conditions place a considerable strain on sufferers, their carers and on healthcare systems generally. They also keep large numbers of people from being fully active members of society. Given the demographic challenge of an ageing population, Europe will be particularly impacted by these conditions in the coming years.

There are a number of conditions which cause particular problems. Nearly 25% of people in Europe have some form of rheumatism or arthritis, according to the WHO; they are the commonest chronic illnesses in Europe.

Osteoporosis is another problem. This is a disease whereby the bone becomes porous and brittle, losing much of its structural strength and leading to a high risk of hip and wrist fractures.

It is a progressive disease, with the elderly – especially women – and those with a family history of the disease being particularly likely to be sufferers. Again, Europe’s ageing population makes this disease a growing concern. Estimates suggest that 40% of all women over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture.

MedTech solutions

Often, the treatment pathway in these conditions ends with replacement of the joint; total knee and hip replacements are now relatively commonplace.

Joint replacement is an area of major activity in medical technology, as manufacturers strive to improve techniques and technology to speed and improve recovery, increase device life and reduce overall care costs.

Delaying joint replacement can come at a cost. Early access to hip replacement significantly improves patients’ quality of life without impacting on healthcare resources.

‘Increases in life expectancy and ageing populations are expected to make osteoarthritis the fourth leading cause of disability by the year 2020. Joint replacement surgery, where available, provides effective relief’ -World Health Organisation

Posted on 27.07.2015

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