A recent study published in Lancet Rheumatology, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, predicts a significant increase in musculoskeletal disorders globally.
Researchers anticipate that the number of people living with these conditions could rise from 464 million to 1060 million by 2050.
Understanding Musculoskeletal Disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders encompass a range of conditions affecting joints, muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and the spine.
The study focuses on ‘other’ musculoskeletal disorders, which do not include well-known conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, low back pain, or neck pain. These often-overlooked disorders contribute significantly to global disability rates.
Key Findings of the Study
In 2020, these ‘other’ musculoskeletal disorders were the sixth-largest cause of years lived with disability (YLDs) and the 19th-largest cause of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs).
The disorders are reported more frequently in females, with the prevalence increasing with age and peaking at 60-69 years.
There is a high demand for therapeutic and rehabilitative services, as evidenced by numerous health service visits indicated in insurance claims data.
Implications for Healthcare Systems
The study’s forecast is based on population projections and ageing demographics, which suggests that the healthcare needs of individuals with musculoskeletal conditions will increase significantly in the coming years.
This increase will place more pressure on already stretched healthcare systems worldwide.
Additional Concerns: Post-COVID-19 Implications
A contributing factor to this projection is the emergence of post-COVID-19 conditions. These include a growing number of musculoskeletal symptoms and mobility loss, further adding to the healthcare burden.
Need for Policy Consideration
The research team emphasizes the need for public policy consideration to address this growing source of disability.
There is a call for more attention and resources to be allocated towards understanding, preventing, and treating these conditions.
In conclusion, the rise in musculoskeletal disorders is a global health concern that requires immediate attention.
The forecast for 2050 highlights the need for healthcare systems to prepare for an increase in therapeutic and rehabilitative needs, as well as policy changes to better manage these disorders.
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The research findings can be found in The Lancet Rheumatology.
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