Rising up the agenda

by Sue Brown CEO

Musculoskeletal conditions are common – we all know that. But it hadn’t struck me until recently just how common compared to other long term conditions. 17 million people in the UK have an MSK condition. Compare that with the 850,000 with dementia and think about how much we talk about dementia. It’s a similar picture for other conditions: diabetes, 3.5 million people, cardiovascular, 7 million. Only mental health exceeds the prevalence of MSK conditions.

Of course, we are rightly worried about dementia. But perhaps we should all worry a little more about our MSK health. It’s not “just pain” or something that is to be expected as we get older. It affects people of all ages and impacts of every aspect of life: work, friends, family, hobbies, the basics of independent living. We should all be working to maintain our MSK health throughout our lives. We should all be able to expect the right physical and psychological support and treatment if we do have MSK conditions.

Anything which has such major impacts on daily life takes its toll psychologically. ARMA members have been pooling their understanding of the links between MSK conditions and mental health. One recommendation we will be making to NHS England about their ten year plan is that everyone diagnosed with a long term MSK condition should have rapid access to psychological support. A pilot with other long term conditions has shown significant savings to the NHS. Providing access to people with respiratory illness, diabetes or a cardiovascular condition led to a saving of £200,000 for just 500 patients through reduced GP appointments, A&E attendance and hospital admissions. Including people with MSK conditions could double those figures.

As well as engaging with the ten year plan we’ve been making plans for the autumn. ARMA members have been supporting the parkrun ambassadors and we’re looking at what more we can do together. Our annual lecture will be on the 21 November and will have the CEO of parkrun as one of the speakers – look out for details in the next newsletter. Our webinar series begins again – see below for details of how to sign up for the first ones. And look out for more on mental health and MSK.

As you can see, there has been lots happening for ARMA over the summer. It feels very positive – MSK is rightly rising up the agenda. 17 million people need it to rise still further. ARMA will be working with you to make sure it does.

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