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Musculo-skeletal health in focus

Update: December, 03/2012 - 10:38

HCM CITY (VNS)— Policy-makers around the world need to pay more attention to the medical problems associated with musculoskeletal conditions so that preventable disabilities and unnecessary suffering can be avoided, a prominent health official has said.

Anthony Woolf, the chair of the international coordinating council of the global Bone and Joint Decade (2010-2020) network, said musculoskeletal conditions had the worst impact on quality of life of many chronic diseases.

Woolf spoke at the World Network Conference of the Bone and Joint Decade, which in HCM City yesterday.

Joint diseases, spinal disorders, back and regional pain problems as well as osteoporosis and fragility fractures affect hundreds of millions of people around the world, causing long-term pain and physical disabilities.

Woolf noted these conditions were the most common cause of people losing economic independence, which in turn creates a major burden on healthcare.

With changing demographics worldwide, particularly a rise in the number of older people, the burden will become even worse.

He said there were effective ways of preventing and controlling musculoskeletal conditions but they had not been implemented with equity.

However, he noted that governments worldwide lacked sufficient policies and priorities to conduct research and offer preventive measures for these conditions.

Musculoskeletal disorders are a key cause for many primary-care consultations, with long-standing musculoskeletal problems the chief reason that one in four adults seek long-term treatment in Europe, according to Woolf.

Although musculoskeletal disorders are more common with ageing, they have a major impact on the working population, and are the most common cause of health problems that limit work in developed countries.

With the aging of the population and change in lifestyles, including reduced physical activity and an increase in obesity, there will be a dramatic increase in musculoskeletal conditions and consequent disabilities.

Increasing physical fitness, maintaining an ideal body weight and eating a balanced diet with adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, as well as avoidance of smoking and balanced use of alcohol, can help reduce the burden of musculoskeletal disease.

Injury prevention, whether related to sport, occupation or road accidents, can also have short – and long-term impacts on musculoskeletal health.

In recent years, treatments for various musculoskeletal conditions have improved considerably, according to Woolf.

However, an underlying lack of awareness by policymakers, non-expert health workers and the public about the impact of musculoskeletal conditions had all contributed to the lack of support and research for musculoskeletal conditions. — VNS

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