There are simple steps employers can take to help staff with musculoskeletal problems to remain in work, says Professor Karen Walker-Bone.

The ‘musculoskeletal system’ is made up of over 200 bones in the skeleton, together with all the muscles, tendons and ligaments that join it all together and allow it to move. These components together provide extraordinary strength to protect our vital organs (the heart, lungs and brain) but also facilitate fluid and fast mobility. The result is that humans can run 100 metres in under 10 seconds and walk away intact after a 200 miles per hour crash in a Formula 1 racing car.

However, to make this possible, there are many hundreds of separate moving parts throughout the system and this unfortunately provides opportunity for dysfunction and disorder. Therefore, the term ‘musculoskeletal disorders’ is an umbrella description for any condition or dysfunction impacting the musculoskeletal system. There are hundreds of common examples: arthritis; scoliosis; carpal tunnel syndrome; tennis elbow; bone fractures; a dislocated shoulder; sprained ankle; osteoporosis; fibromyalgia syndrome, to name just a few.


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