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Musculoskeletal Health (MSK)

MSK programme vision

'Help maintain and improve the musculoskeletal health of the population in England (across the life-course), supporting people to live with good lifelong MSK health and freedom from pain and disability (e.g. prevention)'.

Musculoskeletal conditions are a global public health problem affecting the bones, joints, muscles and spine. They may be broadly grouped as inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, conditions of MSK pain such as osteoarthritis of the hip or knee and back or neck pain, and osteoporosis and fragility fractures. They are the greatest cause of disability worldwide and in the UK and are costly for health services.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions affect over 14.9 million people nationally, many of whom have symptoms of pain, stiffness, limited movement, and disability affecting their quality of life and independence leading to approximately 20% of the general population consulting a GP annually. MSK conditions are the leading cause of years lived with disability and the third largest cause of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) in the UK today. There is an association with a large number of co-morbidities, including depression and obesity. If we fail to take action, our ageing population, rising obesity rates and reduced levels of physical activity will continue to increase the prevalence of MSK conditions.

Many major MSK conditions can be avoided, or their symptoms reduced, by staying active, maintaining a healthy weight with a balanced diet throughout the life course, supported by a work place that promotes MSK health.

In April 2018 PHE launched the MSK Health and Wellbeing programme, followed by a five year action plan with partners, to be published in the summer of 2019. Musculoskeletal Health is identified in a number of different key policy documents for reasons described above this is an emerging priority identifying specific upstream activities focusing on prevention, early detection and treatment.

The Four work strands of the programme include:

  1. Work and Health: Supporting employers and employees to understand the benefits of good MSK health through programmes that increase knowledge and existing tools and resources developed by PHE and partners.

  2. Evidence into Practice: Scale up evidence-based interventions, measuring impact and sustainability. We will be efficient, effective and evolutionary, for example by incorporating MSK Health messages into existing products such as MECC, One You, and All Our Health.

  3. Data & Intelligence: Developing new indicators, strengthening evidence to support commissioning and planning of resources, for example MSK health profiles, MSK calculator.

  4. Workforce: Work with key partners including FPH, HEE, RSPH to develop innovative learning programmes, engage with experts to improve standards of practice across the specialist and wider PH workforce.

The MSK Health SIG was launched in June 2019 alongside the five-year action plan and the PHE MSK Health and Wellbeing Knowledge Hub. The MSK Health SIG provides a forum for public health specialists practitioners, clinicians, academics and commissioners within the wider public health system to share knowledge, experience and increase collaboration:

  • Share knowledge and best practice, reinforcing communication of key messages.
  • Keeping up-to-date with the latest news, events and resources.
  • Active horizon-scanning of key developments in the field of MSK, with an opportunity for consultation on relevant policy.
  • Explore the translation of academic research into public health policies.
  • Global activities into MSK.

Further information on MSK health and wellbeing

If you or a colleague are interested in finding out more please contact the SIG chair, Ben Ellis:

Join the MSK SIG

FPH members can join this SIG by logging into their FPH members’ portal account, selecting the ‘Committees/SIGs’ button and choosing the correct SIG. You will then be asked to provide a few details, following which your application will be automatically approved. Further details on FPH membership are available here.

Become a Member

Become a Member

FPH is the professional home for public health in the UK and abroad. We support over 5,000 members across all career stages enabling them to drive the profession forward and achieve our vision of improving public health.

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