What are musculoskeletal conditions?

Musculoskeletal conditions (MSKs) are chronic problems that affect the bones, joints, muscle and soft tissue. According to the World Health Organisation, these conditions are one of the leading causes of disability, with 1.7 billion people affected worldwide. They can severely limit someone’s mobility and dexterity. Without adequate prevention, treatment and reasonable adjustments, MSK may lead to lower levels of wellbeing and difficulties with managing everyday tasks.

There are 3 types of MSK conditions:

Conditions of MSK pain, such as osteoarthritis and back pain
Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoporosis and fragility fractures, for example, a fracture after a fall

Early intervention

If you are experiencing back, joint or muscle pain, you should discuss this with a healthcare professional such as your doctor. The earlier a problem is reported, the easier it is to deal with.

A number of at-home treatments may be beneficial including staying active, relaxation techniques (such as these breathing exercises) or using hot and cold packs. You should speak to your doctor if you require medication.

Work from home exercises - Moving throughout the day can help reduce the risk of MSK conditions and reduce stress. You can find some details on handy desk based exercises from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy here.



The NHS also suggest that some exercises may be beneficial, such as this video on by the NHS on Pilates for chronic back pain.

MSK and the workplace

Initiatives such as Healthy Workplaces suggest that employees should have open and honest conversations with their employer about MSKs. This will help employers to take preventative action or make reasonable adjustments within the workplace.

Simple adjustments can include:
• Finding alternative ways of doing tasks.
• Taking regular, short breaks.
• Flexible working hours or working from home.
• Adapting equipment e.g. sit-stand desk, using machinery to lift heavy objects.
• Taking time to move and stretch during the day.

Resources

The UK Government's All Our Health resource on musculoskeletal health.

The UK Government's guidance on Healthy Aging and MSK health

Information from the NHS on Stress and MSK Health

The NHS Toolkit on Managing Persistent Pain.

NHS sitting exercises

Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries Working from home – ergonomics and exercises
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