A staggering number of individuals are grappling with musculoskeletal disorders, marking a concerning trend that shows no signs of slowing down. According to a recent study published in Lancet Rheumatology, the prevalence of these disorders is expected to skyrocket, potentially affecting up to 1.06 billion people by 2050, compared to 464 million in 2020. This forecast places significant strain on already stretched healthcare systems worldwide.
The Global Burden of Disease research team conducted an extensive analysis, utilizing population, health, and insurance claims data across 204 countries and territories. Their findings shed light on the alarming rise in musculoskeletal disorders, especially those falling under the category of “other” conditions that often go unnoticed in public policy discussions. Musculoskeletal disorders, excluding well-known conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, have emerged as a substantial source of disability globally.
“We highlight the substantial burden presented by musculoskeletal disorders, which would typically be overlooked,” explains Manasi Murthy Mittinty, a joint first author of the study. These disorders encompass a diverse range of conditions affecting joints, muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and the spine, requiring urgent attention from policymakers.
Factors contributing to the projected surge in musculoskeletal disorders include population growth and an aging demographic. The study underscores that not only will the number of individuals affected dramatically increase, but so will their healthcare needs throughout and beyond 2050.
Additionally, the research team emphasizes that musculoskeletal disorders are more prevalent in females and escalate with age, peaking between 60 and 69 years old. They estimate that cases will soar from 494 million in 2020 to a staggering 1.06 billion by 2050.
Furthermore, the study raises concerns about post-COVID-19 implications, as the emergence of related conditions characterized by musculoskeletal symptoms and mobility loss may aggravate the burden on healthcare systems and communities.
These findings call for immediate public policy action to address the growing burden of musculoskeletal disorders. Providing adequate therapeutic and rehabilitative services is crucial to meet the soaring demand for healthcare resources. Fortunately, increased awareness and research surrounding these conditions can pave the way for effective interventions and improved quality of life for millions of individuals worldwide.