Abstract

The symptomatic degeneration of articular cartilage and associated arthritis is among the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States and the population most at risk is increasing. It is the leading cause of limitations in activities of daily living and is second to heart disease in causing work disability. The current and future socioeconomic impact of chronic articular cartilage disease on the healthcare system will be magnified by increasing numbers of patients who will seek relief of their symptoms and their disability to remain active. Because these individuals live longer and remain active, the proportion of their life living with symptoms and disability from articular cartilage degeneration increases. The economic, psychologic, and social impact of degenerative articular cartilage can be enormous for these individuals but it also impacts their family and society. The direct traditional medical costs and indirect economic and wage loss from arthritis in individuals the United States has reached in excess of $65 billion annually and is expected to increase as the population ages. In addition, the expenditures for complementary and alternative professional services and therapies for arthritis is increasing and is also in the billions of dollars annually. Because of these escalating costs, documenting the value of the patient and cost effectiveness to society of prevention and treatment programs for symptomatic articular cartilage degeneration will be required.

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