Policy makers must be made aware of the size of the growing problem of musculoskeletal disorders, especially in light of rapidly aging populations around the world, according to researchers.

The overview of the burden of all musculoskeletal disorders across the globe was published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

For the analysis, researchers examined data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, which assessed the extent of diseases and injuries across 21 regions and 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2017. Musculoskeletal disorders included rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, low back pain, neck pain, gout, and related conditions.

The team found that there were approximately 1.3 billion prevalent cases and 121,300 deaths due to musculoskeletal disorders in 2017, as wells as 138.7 million disability-adjusted life years, or the number of years lost due to ill health, disability, or early death. The burden of these diseases generally increased with age for both sexes, was more prevalent among females, and was higher in developed countries, according to a media release from Wiley.

Study Describes Disability Burden

“Our study describes the enormous global burden of disability from musculoskeletal conditions in a single paper.

“These conditions are under-recognized despite their enormous costs to individuals, the economy, and the health system. Also, there has been a lack of any significant decline in the burden from these conditions over time, which means that there is still insufficient emphasis on addressing the problem.”

— senior author Rachelle Buchbinder, MD, of the Cabrini Institute and Monash University, in Australia

Global Response is Needed

“A global response is needed, and this should be integrated with other strategies that can address some of the modifiable and important risk factors of musculoskeletal disorders, including obesity, poor nutrition, smoking, and sedentary lifestyles.

“As well, there should be an emphasis on reducing low-value care for some of the most burdensome conditions such as low back pain and osteoarthritis that is contributing to the problem.”

— Rachelle Buchbinder, MD

The authors also stress the need for standardized methods for collecting data on the prevalence and impact of musculoskeletal disorders around the world.

[Source(s): Wiley, EurekAlert]

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