New Forecast Predicts Sharp Increase in Musculoskeletal Disorders by 2050

New Forecast Predicts Sharp Increase in Musculoskeletal Disorders by 2050

A recent study published in Lancet Rheumatology has shed light on the growing prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders worldwide. The research predicts that by 2050, the number of individuals living with these conditions could reach a staggering 1.06 billion people, more than doubling the current estimate of 464 million. This significant increase is expected to place immense strain on healthcare systems globally.

The study, conducted by researchers from Flinders University and Harvard Medical School, utilized data from 204 countries and territories, including population demographics, health records, and insurance claims. The aim was to assess the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders, the impact on quality of life, and project future trends.

According to Dr. Manasi Murthy Mittinty, one of the authors of the study, the research highlighted a substantial burden caused by “other” musculoskeletal disorders that often go unrecognized. This category encompasses various conditions beyond commonly known ones like osteoarthritis and low back pain. These lesser-discussed disorders are emerging as a significant source of disability worldwide, demanding increased public policy attention.

The study findings indicated that musculoskeletal disorders are more prevalent in females and become more common with age, peaking between 60 and 69 years. In 2020, these disorders ranked as the sixth-largest cause of years lived with disability (YLDs) and the 19th-largest cause of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). The high YLD burden suggests a rising demand for therapeutic and rehabilitative services, as evidenced by a large number of health service visits recorded in insurance claims data.

While the forecast is based on population projections and aging demographics, the study also highlighted the potential influence of post-COVID-19 implications on musculoskeletal health. The emergence of conditions characterized by musculoskeletal symptoms and loss of mobility post-recovery could further exacerbate the burden on healthcare systems and communities.

These findings underscore the urgent need for proactive public health policies and interventions to address the growing burden of musculoskeletal disorders. By understanding and addressing these conditions comprehensively, healthcare systems can better meet the needs of the increasing number of individuals living with musculoskeletal disabilities.


1. What are musculoskeletal disorders?

Musculoskeletal disorders refer to a broad category of conditions affecting the joints, muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and spine. They can cause pain, immobility, and disability, adversely affecting a person’s quality of life.

2. Why are musculoskeletal disorders on the rise?

Factors such as an aging population and lifestyle changes, including sedentary behavior and obesity, contribute to the increasing prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders.

3. How can musculoskeletal disorders be managed?

The management of musculoskeletal disorders often involves a combination of therapies, including medication, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and sometimes surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial in preventing disability and improving outcomes.

4. What can individuals do to prevent musculoskeletal disorders?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, engaging in regular exercise, adopting proper posture and ergonomic practices, avoiding excessive strain on joints, and practicing injury prevention measures can help reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Regular check-ups and early intervention for any symptoms are also important.

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