nib and Sigma launch osteoarthritis program

nib health funds (nib) has announced an innovative partnership with Sigma Pharmaceuticals Limited (Sigma), who operate the Amcal, Amcal Max and Guardian pharmacies nationwide, to assist nib customers who are living with osteoarthritis.

The new program will assist those dealing with this growing degenerative problem on how to manage and improve the conditions. The pilot program will be offered to nib customers in the Hunter, Central Coast and Wollongong areas.

Almost one in 10 Australians currently have osteoarthritis that affects the hands, spine and joints such as hips, knees and ankles, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion.

The pilot program focuses on weight loss and increasing activity, both of which are major contributors to improving the condition. The pilot program will be considered for broader roll out.

Justin Vaughan, nib's Group Manager Benefits and Provider Relations, said that improving the lifestyle factors associated with osteoarthritis can significantly improve the condition and lead to positive outcomes for those with it.

"We know that preventative health measures such as reducing body weight and increasing daily activity can lessen the pain associated with osteoarthritis. It also greatly reduces the likelihood for surgery," Mr Vaughan said.

nib is offering the 12-week "Be Good to Yourself" program free of charge to 100 nib customers who visit the participating pharmacies, where trained wellness coaches are available. Eligible participants will be provided a free visit to an exercise physiologist to set specific exercise plans, as well as telephone support from nib's dietitians.

Gary Dunne, Sigma's Chief Operating Officer said this continues the release of our structured Professional Services programs, and has been developed with the aim of helping participants to lose five per cent of their body weight over the 12 weeks and experience a reduction in joint pain.

"In many cases, people simply don't know where to start with healthy lifestyle programs. This will provide a tailored exercise and nutrition program for participants to follow, but equally important, a support network to keep them motivated and focused on their goals throughout the 12 weeks," Mr Dunne said.