Arthritis and other musculoskeletal disorders are reducing the productivity of thousands of New Zealanders, a report has concluded.
The report was commissioned by healthcare firm Abbott Laboratories and carried out by researchers at Britain's Lancaster University.
It says musculoskeletal disorders, such as arthritis, cost New Zealand $5.5 billion a year in health and associated expenses.
It says the disorders comprise both a quarter of total healthcare costs and a significant amount of sickness and invalid benefit payments because of the direct and indirect effects of ill health.
Arthritis New Zealand is urging a greater effort to keep people working rather than at home on benefits.
The organisation says it's better for those with the disorders to be in work, and government agencies, doctors and employers must work together to achieve this.
Rheumatologist Dr John Petrie says clinicians try to restore a person's normal activities.
But he says demands on clinic time are often such that there is no availability or time to refer people on to specialists such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists who can help people get back to their normal activities.