Let’s stop ignoring arthritis, for everyone’s sake 70



View Profile

It affects almost four million Australians. It is painful, debilitating and can lead to permanent disability. It costs the Australian economy $24 billion each year. Yet, arthritis is almost ignored and suffers from shrinking funding, limited discussion and low awareness of treatment options. Before arthritis cripples our country, it’s time to take a stand. Let’s put tackling arthritis higher up on our national agenda.

Between 2008-2010, arthritis received around $26 million in annual funding from the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC). In comparison to other major diseases, the figure is low. But to make matters worse, by 2013 investment dropped to $23million. This is despite the number of people with arthritis rapidly growing. Millions of Australians with arthritis desperately await treatment improvements. But the likelihood reduces every year.

In our social circles, even though many suffer from arthritis, it’s barely spoken of. Similarly, it attracts negligible media coverage compared to other major diseases, even though they have far fewer sufferers. Many think arthritis only affect the old-aged. But many people with arthritis are of working age, with countless negative workplace implications. Why is this huge problem so frequently ignored and who can change this?

Thankfully, dedicated public bodies, such as Arthritis Australia and their state-level partners, do great work in research, fundraising and education. But it is not nearly enough. We all need to start taking action, so here are my ideas for things we can do (I’d love to hear yours):

  1. Start talking

A problem shared is a problem halved. The more people affected by arthritis talk about it the better. People with arthritis can discuss their experiences, share names of expert practitioners and outline ways they cope. Others can try to better understand this complex and multi-faced disease, so they can provide more helpful support.


  1. Get active

Join your national or local state-based arthritis body. Write to your Federal or State MP. Ask or post questions in public forums.


  1. Take ownership

It takes time to raise awareness, grow funding levels and find treatments. Meanwhile, there are many lifestyle changes and alternative treatments that might make a difference to someone with arthritis. Strong scientific evidence links alleviation of symptoms with healthy diets – high in anti-inflammatory foods – and regular basic exercise. Some supplements can help too.


Dietitians and specialist physiotherapists can assist individuals better manage their condition. I have had arthritis myself for over a decade and my Wellvess website provides heaps of information to help people take control themselves, including an eight-week diet and exercise program.

If everyone with arthritis – not to mention their loved ones – did just one more thing to help tackle the disease it would make a lot of noise. Nearly four million people can not be easily ignored!


I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Sandra Witzel

Sandra Witzel is a certified Health Coach who has lived with arthritis for over a decade. She is a member of the International Association of Health Coaches and works to help people with arthritis through Wellvess.com, an 8-week online program packed with meal plans, recipes, latest research on supplements, exercise tips and a forum to connect with others.

  1. I am having problems today, I have osteo Arthritis and am very sore today, I am thinking perhaps the cold affects it? It is cold and raining here..never mind I took some Celebrex

    5 REPLY
    • Poor you! I understand completely. My arthritis is like having a barometer, always know when the rain is coming. Have you got a heat pad or a hot water bottle?

    • yes I will get a hot water bottle when I get settled down I am trying to get a few things done first I will just limp along till then..thanks again

    • Libbi my rheumatoid arthritis is worse these cold morning so I use a heat pak which sends me back to sleep…I am already taking so many drugs for the disease that I try to avoid taking more medication than I have to.

  2. I have been ignoring arthritis for years, but it is getting harder to ignore, particularly old injury sites. Had a fall over 2 metres on concrete last year which did not help. Have taken some steps to be more proactive and address arthritis and other injury problems last few days, am hopeful of some improvement. Need to talk to work about managing some things different.

  3. I take 8000mg of fish oil a day and no anti-inflamitories, use to live on mobic.

    4 REPLY
    • Wendy, they took me off Mobic because they thought it was elevating my blood pressure. I’m feeling the effects of stopping it. Does the fish oil really work? I’ve just had a total knee replacement of my left knee but I’ve arthritis in my right knee and back. Thanks.

  4. I was taking Panadol Osteo regularly which definitely helped; ant- inflammatories were a no no for me because I have to take Warfarin. Recently diagnosed with leukemia and the drug I take for that causes bad side effects if panadol is used. Still trying to find a satisfactory effective analgesic. I wear a splint on my most painful joints.

  5. I have it in my hands and shoulder joints and elbows also my knees and ankles. Iv had a number of bad falls one of which resulted in plates and pins and it aches and aches! I wish there were a cure for it!

  6. We are having some lovely, gentle , much needed rain today – so WHY do my knees have to try to spoil it by aching so much ????

  7. Try Rosehip Vital. They have a page on FB if you want more information

    3 REPLY
  8. I recently had carpel tunnel on my hand,,so good,,then tripped on cord ,hit knee,,hand,,head,,damn ,,back to drawing board,,ouch!

  9. Its shocking to find that people in Australia who suffer with arthiritis are left without support or help

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *