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Musculoskeletal disorders rank second worldwide in curbing ‘productive life’: study

photo: kali9/iStockphoto

Strasbourg, France — Musculoskeletal disorders rank No. 2 worldwide in shortening people’s working years, according to a recent analysis of data compiled by the World Health Organization.

Researchers from the National Reference Center for Rare Autoimmune Diseases at University Hospitals of Strasbourg looked at 2000 and 2015 data from 183 countries in WHO’s Global Health Estimates database. They found that the number of “years of productive life lost due to disability,” or YLDs, for people with MSDs increased to 103.8 million in 2015 from 77.4 million in 2000. Mental illness and substance abuse accounted for the most YLDs, an April 30 press release states.

In 2015, heart disease and stroke ranked first in “years of life lost” (YLL, or early death) and in “disability-adjusted life years,” or DALYs, a sum of YLDs and YLLs. Infectious and parasitic diseases were second in DALYs and early death, but musculoskeletal disorders accounted for more productive years lost to disability, according to the release. MSDs ranked ninth in DALYs and 19th in YLL.

Early deaths from MSDs increased to nearly 4.1 million in 2015 from about 2.8 million in 2000. Musculoskeletal DALYs increased to approximately 107.9 million in 2015 from 80.2 million in 2000.


“National health care systems have tended to underestimate the importance of [musculoskeletal] conditions, relative to other serious disease, because they are rarely fatal and are largely irreversible,” the release states.

The analysis was published online April 15 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

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