# Evidence to Support the National Action Plan for Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis:

## 4.1 Overview

Osteoarthritis  is  the  most  common  form  of  chronic  arthritis.  The  condition  affects approximately 1.4 million Australians, or approximately 7.3% of the population (AIHW 2002a). Osteoarthritis is characterised by joint pain and mobility impairment associated with the gradual wearing of cartilage. The cause of osteoarthritis is not completely understood, however, it is thought to be a complex, adaptive response of the joints to biomechanical, genetic and environmental stresses (Dieppe 1998). Treatment is primarily symptomatic and at present there is no known cure. The prevalence of osteoarthritis increases with age.

Osteoarthritis poses a substantial and increasing burden on individuals and society as a result of population dynamics, impaired health-related quality of life and the socio-economic impact of  the  condition.  This  report  outlines  opportunities  to  improve  the  prevention  and management of osteoarthritis.