One in four local authorities in England are failing their local communities by ignoring the needs of people with arthritis, a charity has claimed.
Arthritis Research UK said 26% of councils in the country failed to properly consider the condition in their assessment of health needs in the community, while 66% of councils failed to consider back pain.
In a report published today the charity warns that not recognising the impact of musculoskeletal conditions could create further problems for local health and social care services in the future.
Musculoskeletal conditions, such as osteoarthritis and back pain, affect more than seven million people in England who need access to appropriate health activities as well as support in tackling mobility and independence problems.
Without it, the charity believes sufferers are at risk of severe pain, depression and isolation, and weight-gain which can lead to obesity-linked conditions.
Dr Liam O'Toole, chief executive at Arthritis Research UK, said: "There needs to be a shift away from the perception that musculoskeletal conditions are not a priority or that nothing can be done.
"It is a priority for millions of people with arthritis and there are many treatments and interventions that can help.
"We now have the data to show the huge burden that these conditions place on the individual and society.
"We want to ensure that every person living with arthritis is recognised and they receive the services that will make a tangible improvement to their quality of life."
He added that there is an "urgent need" for local authorities to properly assess the impact on the communities which they serve.
Each year around a fifth of the population consult their GP about a musculoskeletal condition, which accounts for £5 billion of NHS spend and is the leading cause of working days lost.
The charity estimates its costs the economy £20 billion every year.
With an ageing and increasingly obese population, and rates of physical activity continuing to decrease, the number of people living with osteoarthritis and back pain will increase rapidly over the next 10 years, the report said.
Musculoskeletal Conditions: The Need For Local Prioritisation analysed content of the joint strategic needs assessments of local authorities with a statutory duty for public health in England.
The report welcomed the wide recognition of falls, fragility fractures and osteoporosis but urged councils to tackle all musculoskeletal conditions.
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