Public health

Musculoskeletal diseases rank 4th in burden of disease list

Musculoskeletal conditions rank fourth as one of the leading contributors to the burden of disease after cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mental and substance use disorders.

According to an AIHW report, musculoskeletal conditions were responsible for 521,286 disability-adjusted life years (DALY) in 2011 and contributed 12% of the total burden of disease in Australia.


figure 1 musculoskeletal

Latest data from the Australian Burden of Disease Study showed they contributed 23% of the total non-fatal burden but less than 1% of the total fatal burden.

Back pain and problems contributed 31% of the total burden of all musculoskeletal conditions, followed by osteoarthritis (17%), rheumatoid arthritis (16%) and gout (0.8%).figure 2 musculoskeletal

A large group of ‘other musculoskeletal conditions’ including juvenile arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and SLE contributed 35% of the total burden.

Females carried a heavier burden of disease than males for all musculoskeletal conditions combined and for most disease groups. Males experienced a much higher burden from gout (84% v 16%) while there was no gender difference for back pain and problems.

The burden of musculoskeletal conditions increased with age to a peak in 60–64 year olds.

The report said the total burden due to musculoskeletal conditions was 1.4 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders than non-Indigenous Australians. Only back pain and problems was lower in Indigenous Australians.

While there was a 15% reduction in the total burden of disease from 26 DALY per 1,000 in 2003 to 22 DALY per 1,000 in 2011, more could be done to reduce the burden.

About 17% of the total burden due to back pain and problems was attributed to occupational exposures and hazards; and 45% of the burden due to osteoarthritis was attributed to overweight and obesity.

Already a member?

Login to keep reading.

Email me a login link

© 2022 the limbic