Medical and Patient Groups Ally on Musculoskeletal Health

Kate Johnson

June 06, 2012

June 6, 2012 (Berlin, Germany) — In an "an unprecedented move overstepping borders between medical associations," European rheumatologists, orthopaedic surgeons, and patients with arthritis have joined forces in an effort to improve political and public support for musculoskeletal disease, representatives announced here at the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress 2012.

The European Musculoskeletal Health Alliance is the joint effort of EULAR, the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT), and the patient group People With Arthritis/Rheumatism in Europe, announced Maxime Dougados, MD, current president of EULAR and professor of rheumatology at Rene Descartes University in Paris, France.

"Will go together in order to improve awareness of musculoskeletal conditions around the world, and we will speak with 1 single voice via this alliance," Dr. Dougados said.

"In daily practice, orthopedists and rheumatologists are working in close collaboration anywhere, in any country all around the world. But now we feel, why not to formalize this, to merge in an official way...because we have seen that both EFORT and EULAR were lobbying the European Union in order to try and convince politicians to reconsider the position concerning the role they dedicate to musculoskeletal conditions."

The new alliance will be the largest coalition ever in the field of musculoskeletal health, according to a press release. "The establishment of this Alliance means that Europe's foremost rheumatologists, orthopaedists and traumatologists are now working closely together at European level to steer European Union policy makers towards reduction of the incidence and impact of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases and injuries across Europe."

In addition, the alliance "will in particular promote broader awareness of musculoskeletal diseases, prevention, the need for research funding and improved quality treatment."

Awareness about musculoskeletal conditions lags behind that of other conditions, added EFORT spokesperson Karsten Dreinhofer, MD, director of orthopedics at Medical Park Berlin Humboldtmuehle, Berlin, Germany.

"Most of the politicians...are focusing on other disease areas like oncology, like neurology, and other areas, and have so far ignored musculoskeletal conditions," he said. "We do hope if we team up together we can bring the combined interest of our patients — because it is the same patients that we're treating — more to the forefront."

"We are all delighted to a present united the wider world," added Neil Betteridge, chief executive of Arthritis Care UK and vice-president of People with Arthritis/Rheumatism in Europe.

In addition to improving awareness, the alliance will attack some "damaging myths, such as musculoskeletal conditions only effect people of older age, or there's nothing you can do," he said. "These myths damage lives, so together with 1 voice we can remove some of those barriers to optimal treatment and better quality of life for people with musculoskeletal diseases."

Secondary prevention will be one of the main priorities of the alliance, "helping musculoskeletal disorders to be diagnosed sufficiently early to prevent them from becoming chronic," according to the news release.

Other objectives will be:

  • increased public awareness of the dramatic effect of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (musculoskeletal diseases are the second most common reason for consulting a physician in Europe and represent a burden of an estimated 240 billion euros per year),

  • more political support for innovative solutions to address musculoskeletal health at European and national levels, and

  • closer interprofessional cooperation to improve musculoskeletal health.

The alliance is planning a political launch event in Brussels in October this year, and a Web site will soon be available.

The speakers have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress 2012. Presented June 6, 2012.


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