Do one thing to prioritise MSK health

We are now very close to Bone and Joint Week, which begins on 12 October. It’s a chance to remind everyone of the fundamental importance of MSK health. Today I learned that there is some evidence that people with hip and knee arthritis who don’t receive treatment may die early due to cardiovascular conditions. It makes sense. If you are in too much pain to be active your general health will suffer. Add to this the impact of depression, isolation and loneliness, all of which also affects physical health. So, whilst the pain of the condition may not be fatal, the knock-on effects can be.

This is why we should all be paying more attention to long term MSK conditions like arthritis. The disabling impact of pain and reduced mobility is bad enough. But we must also remember the indirect impact when weighing up the priority to give to MSK health.

A lot of effective treatments exist. For severe osteoarthritis of hip and knee we know that joint replacement is an effective intervention. For rheumatoid arthritis, rapid access to the right therapies makes a big difference to long term outcomes. Being active, a good diet and maintaining a healthy weight will promote good MSK health for everyone.

So why does MSK get so little attention? It could be because we think it’s all about older people and only to be expected in later life. Not true. People of all ages get MSK conditions and ARMA is discussing what we might do to highlight the needs of children with MSK conditions. It could be because we think people can just take a painkiller and all will be well. Not true. The impact of MSK pain can be significant and disabling. Most of all I think it’s because we take MSK health for granted and don’t recognise it for what it is – the underpinning framework for all other health. There can be no health without MSK health.

This Bone and Joint Week ARMA members will work together to raise awareness of the importance of MSK. I am asking you to support us and do one thing to prioritise good musculoskeletal health.