Hand therapists treat people with hand, thumb and wrist arthritis on a daily basis and our clinic is no different. I often bring to mind a comment I heard in 2010 at the Christchurch opening of the Bone and Joint Decade. A local rheumatologist described arthritis sufferers as ‘stoic and uncomplaining’. I wondered (and still do) why this group of patients made this impression on the medical profession and hoped that the next ten years might offer up some solutions. I have also to admit that I had my fingers crossed not to be joining that group anytime soon – although 17 years later I now have!

The Bone and Joint Decade was launched to try and address the relatively low numbers of research projects undertaken for musculoskeletal conditions. While 18 percent of all medical consultations were for these types of problems, only 2 percent of the U.S. national research funding was for projects addressing musculoskeletal health. In 2010 the vision for the Bone and Joint Decade was restated as “A world where musculoskeletal health is a priority, where the prevention, treatment and care of any musculoskeletal disorders is of a high standard and consistently accessible in order to improve… the quality of life for people with, or at risk of a musculoskeletal condition.” Let me tell you, we are referring to a massive group of people worldwide.

Genes to blame for gout, not food

So how are we doing? Osteoarthritis is still a real problem for a great many people. The researchers are making ground but with a huge increase of people in the community aged over 70, the impact of hand pain on the individual is significant. There are things that you can do to relieve some of these symptoms, including splinting, strengthening and joint protection. I’m hoping to share some recent research from the world of hand therapy and physiotherapy in some upcoming posts. For too long, allied health professionals have been the silent partner at the table, so let’s start sharing…

Until next time,