Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

November 20, 2008 09:01 ET

Bone and Joint Health High on List of Health Concerns

Canadians understand consequences, says study – but only a minority know they can largely be prevented

Attention: Health/Medical Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, NEWS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2008) - Next to cancer, Canadians are more concerned about back and joint pain than they are about any other health issue, yet less than a quarter (23%) say they believe that injuries, arthritis and osteoporosis are largely preventable. That was one of the findings of a comprehensive market research study conducted earlier in 2008 for the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation (

"Not enough Canadians are aware of how the risks of bone and joint disease increase due to obesity, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and seemingly routine injuries," says Dr. Kevin Orrell, Chair of the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation. "The lack of understanding around the enormous potential of prevention is certainly cause for concern."

In the survey, 40 per cent of respondents stated they were personally concerned about back and joint pain, not far off the 44 per cent that were concerned about cancer. That ranked ahead of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure among major health concerns of Canadians. Two other issues affecting bones and joints made the top 10 list of health concerns: arthritis (#5 with 33 per cent) and injuries (#10 with 25 per cent). Trailing just behind was osteoporosis (#13 with 21 per cent).[1]

The market research found that Canadians grasp the consequences of poor bone and joint health, citing a decline in mobility and independence, soreness and aches, chronic pain, and an inability to participate in physical activities. Despite these concerns, 78 per cent see no need to even start worrying about it until they are adults. One in five (21 per cent) say they shouldn't start being concerned until they're 40, and 13 per cent say it's not necessary to be concerned until they're 50-plus.

"We haven't viewed our bone and joint health as needing our attention until we near the point when it starts to break down, "says Angelique Berg, CEO of the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation. "In reality, we need to build our bone and joint health from childhood and young adulthood with proper nutrition, activity and preventing injury so we're better able to retain our resilience long into mid- and late-adulthood."

Urgency for prevention
The rising numbers of orthopaedic patients, and the preventable nature of many of these cases, underscores the need for disease prevention and health education:

* 90 per cent of knee replacement patients and 80 per cent of hip replacement patients are either overweight or obese. [2] Such surgeries have jumped 101 per cent in the last 10 years.[3]

* Injuries result in two million days in hospital each year[4], and their impact is two-fold - in the care needed at the time, and the fact that injuries are suspected to be a major factor in developing arthritis.

* Arthritis is the number four disease in health spending, expected to affect 6.4 million Canadians within 25 years. [5]

* In all, orthopaedic care accounts for $2.5 billion in direct costs, and $18 billion in indirect costs.[5]

"It's clear that as a society we are paying a high price for poor bone and joint health, but that cost needs to be personal before we change our behaviors," says Berg. "Picture retirement and all you want to do when the hectic 9-to-5 routine is over. Without healthy bones and joints, that picture looks rather bleak. There are good reasons to invest not just in RRSP's but also in our bone and joint health to realize the retirement we want."

Prevention campaign to kick-start with awareness
The gap in bone and joint health awareness is the focus of a developing public awareness and education campaign, to be aimed at promoting healthy nutrition, fitness and injury prevention. Dubbed Because You Can in its early stages, it has the endorsement of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association among others who agree it's an idea whose time has come.

"Health focus is on prevention," notes Berg, "and physical activity is cited among prevention strategies for disorders from heart disease to obesity to some cancers. Bone and joint health is critical to ward off many, many health issues."

"With focus on physical activity, it's important that we teach people how to build and retain their bone and joint health in their activity choices and avoid wearing it down," says Orrell. "For example, an overweight child whose bones are still growing needs to chose different activities than does the school's all-round athlete to avoid joint damage. A 30-year-old weekend warrior needs regular conditioning to avoid injuries in that game of shinny. The first step is getting Canadians to think about their bone and joint health at all ages - not just when they start to hurt."

As for deliverables, an injury prevention program is top of mind. "In an active society, perhaps one of the simplest things we can do is to recognize that injuries and accidents are preventable," says Orrell. "There is so much that can be done to build bone and joint health - and build good lifelong habits - to prevent painful and disabling disorders. The first step is calling to mind how important bone and joint health is to our overall health. The next step is to show the way to build it and keep it - for life."

About the Study

The study of Canadian attitudes and awareness around bone and joint health was done for the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation by Northstar Research Partners. The sample comprised Canadian adults, representative of the population by region, gender and age. The sample size of 1,041 is accurate within a statistical tolerance of +/- 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

The Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation is a registered charity dedicated solely to helping people build, maintain and restore their bone and joint health, mobility and function. Founded in 1965, the Foundation funds and leads advancements in orthopaedic research, public education, and improved delivery of community care. Through those improvements, we strive to keep Canadians living and moving independently.

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[1] Survey participants were asked to state their concern about various health issues on a scale from 1 to 10; these figures represent responses that achieved at least 8 out of 10.
[2] Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canadian Joint Replacement Registry (CJRR) 2006 Annual Report - Hip and Knee Replacements in Canada (Ottawa: CIHI, 2007).
[3] Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canadian Joint Replacement Registry (CJRR) 2007 Annual Report - Hip and Knee Replacements in Canada (Ottawa: CIHI, 2008).
[4] Canadian Institute for Health Research, National Trauma Registry 2005 Injury Hospitalizations Highlights Report, January 25th, 2006.
[5] Health Canada. Arthritis in Canada. An ongoing challenge. Ottawa: Health Canada, 2003. (Cat. # H39-4/14-2003E; ISBN 0-662-35008-1).

For more information contact:

Angelique Berg, President & CEO
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
416-410-2341 x 2
/For further information: Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Fax: 416-352-5078
Website: IN: HEALTH

Contact Information

  • Angelique Berg, President & CEO, Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
    Primary Phone: 416-410-2341 ext. 2
    Secondary Phone: 905-847-5674
    Toll-Free: 800-461-3639