Most Americans are surrounded by neighbors, colleagues, and relatives with pain and disability from bone and joint diseases and disorders. Public health experts refer to the total impact of a disease on those affected as the “burden” of that disease. A look at the burden of musculoskeletal disorders reveals that from childhood through adolescence and adulthood, these conditions rob millions of individuals of their mobility, function, and a pain-free existence. Musculoskeletal disorders and conditions also incur tremendous costs, not only in pain and suffering, but also in the procedures and interventions demanded of an overburdened health system. When musculoskeletal disorders that could be prevented or ameliorated are not addressed in a timely manner, we miss opportunities to intervene earlier and more effectively in the disease process—a problem exacerbated by lack of access to both screening and treatment. These missed opportunities rob people of their ability to work and live full lives, and add unnecessary expenditures to the healthcare system.
Musculoskeletal disorders are common already, and will become even more so as the population ages. However, we do not have to accept the scenario of unchanged or increased burden. Advances in science have led to many significant improvements in treatment, in a number of cases permitting people to regain mobility and function, but cures for the most common disorders remain elusive. Until scientific research provides answers, people will suffer and healthcare costs will continue to grow. If research and clinical investments came closer to matching the burden of these disorders on our society, we could improve access to earlier screening, diagnosis, and treatment. This, in turn, would allow us to intervene sooner and more effectively, and reduce the toll—both in pain and suffering and in costs from treatment and lost productivity—that musculoskeletal disorders take.
This summary presents data demonstrating how common these conditions are, why this matters, and what we can do differently to address and—ideally—reverse these trends. The full volume, The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States: Prevalence, Societal and Economic Cost, offers a much more comprehensive set of data on each musculoskeletal condition, as well as cross-cutting issues such as the implications of an aging population. The full report is available from www.boneandjointburden.org.
BMUS Executive Summary: www.boneandjointburden.org/docs/BMUSExecutiveSummary2016_0.pdf
BMUS Main Site (full publication): www.boneandjointburden.org
Text taken from The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans – Opportunities for Action, the Executive Summary of the Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States: Prevalence, Societal and Economic Cost (BMUS).