Canadians with arthritis two to three times more likely to need health servicesTORONTO, Sept. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - At a time when hospitals across Canada are trying to cut costs by scaling back or closing arthritis clinics, the burden of the disease on our health-care system is only increasing. In a given year, a Canadian with arthritis is two to three times more likely to be hospitalized, to require multiple primary care visits, to visit a specialist or to require physiotherapy than someone without any chronic illness. With over 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis, that increased reliance on health services puts enormous strain on the health-care system. The new figures come from Arthritis in Canada, a series of reports released today by The Arthritis Society and developed on The Society's behalf by the Arthritis Community Research & Evaluation Unit (ACREU). The Arthritis Alliance of Canada, a group of organizations from across Canada that share a commitment to improving the lives of Canadians with arthritis, estimates the current economic impact of arthritis in Canada at over $33 billion in terms of treatment costs and lost productivity. They project that this figure will double over the next 20 years to over $67 billion. "The costs of arthritis management are very real," explains Society president and CEO Janet Yale. "We need to adopt a national strategy to address these costs. We need to focus on the prevention of injuries that can lead to osteoarthritis, adopting healthy lifestyles, and more investment in the kind of research that can lead to new, cost-effective treatments." Physiotherapy and occupational therapy can reduce the burden of arthritis by helping to mitigate symptoms, slow joint deterioration and improve mobility for people living with arthritis.