Arthritis: The surprising cost to Australian business

Arthritis: The surprising cost to Australian business

Dr Amy Norman is far from the typical impression of someone with arthritis. The 25-year-old chiropractor had no clue why she struggled to do things like squeeze shampoo out of a bottle to wash her hair, pick up a pen or shake someone’s hand.

It was only in 2011 that she finally got some answers. At just 21 she was told she had rheumatoid arthritis.

“Through my chiropractic degree I knew I was showing signs of inflammation and was preparing myself with questions I wanted to ask my specialist,” Amy said.

“When he called me into his office, everything I had prepared in my mind slipped away and I was already teary before he finished his examination.

“He told me I had rheumatoid arthritis and that I was going to have to start about three to four different medications, one of them being methotrexate, which is a chemotherapy drug. I was devastated.”

Jannine Jackson, CEO of Arthritis & Osteoporosis NSW said most people are unaware that the majority of those who suffer from this invisible illness are between 15 and 60.

“What they don’t realise is that 2.4 million working-age Australians – that’s 11 percent of our workforce – suffer from arthritis and it costs Australian businesses over $300 million a year in absenteeism,” explained Jannine.

“What’s worse is the stigma that it’s an older person’s disease, leading many people to feel too embarrassed to talk about it in the workplace.

“We need to educate others so they understand it affects people of all ages.”

To help raise awareness for the disease, Arthritis & Osteoporosis NSW is hosting an event called Our Joint with the goal of breaking the Guinness World Record for the ‘largest gathering of skeletons.’

“Our Joint is a great opportunity for Sydney businesses and workers to support their employees and colleagues, who may be suffering in silence, by raising awareness,” said Jannine.

“It’s much harder to overlook bone and joint health when the entire office is dressed as skeletons!”

Our Joint will kick off the Halloween weekend on Friday, 30 October from 4pm-9pm and will be held at Dudley Page Reserve, Dover Heights with fantastic views of Sydney Harbour.

Tickets are $40 – discounts apply for children, families and groups of 10 or more – and includes event entry, access to all entertainment including the haunted house, goodie bags and a free skeleton onesie to take part in breaking the Guinness World Record.

All proceeds will go towards support services, education and research into new treatments for arthritis and osteoporosis.

For media information and interviews, please contact Felipe Beltran on 02 9857 3330.