Stephen I. Katz, MD, PhDI am pleased to introduce the 3rd edition of The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States, a landmark publication that has become emblematic of the presidentially declared United States Bone and Joint Decade (2002–2011), which is being continued after 2011 as the United States Bone and Joint Initiative.

A collaborative effort of several Initiative supporters, The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States shows the current musculoskeletal landscape as reflected in solid data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ 2012 National Health Interview Survey. It provides a fresh look at conditions of the musculoskeletal system that continue to be the leading cause of physical disability in this country.

As the Initiative continues the mission of the Decade, The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States becomes an increasingly important vehicle for assessing our present position relative to the health challenges that lie ahead. Although the musculoskeletal community is advancing its goals, much still remains to be accomplished. We continue to face such issues as the increase in our elderly population; challenges in the economics, resources, management, and utilization of health care; and the high expectations of patients and families in what is arguably the world’s most advanced medical environment. Musculoskeletal conditions remain common, chronic, and costly. Arthritis and joint and back pain, spinal problems, osteoporosis, and injuries are just a few of the conditions that affect millions of Americans, not only physically and financially, but emotionally.

The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States provides a springboard to continue the momentum of success the Initiative has afforded us. As you read and digest the information that lies within these pages, I encourage you to consider especially those sections that address your specific areas of interest or expertise.

Stephen I. Katz, MD, PhD
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland

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