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Musculoskeletal disorders overwhelmingly affecting Indians

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Rohit Shishodia
A systematic review published by the Department of Community Medicine, Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, has revealed that an overwhelming percentage of Indians are suffering from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The review is based on 8 published studies on incidence of MSDs conducted among 11,617 individuals in India.

These studies covered Tamil Nadu (47.6%), Andhra Pradesh (61%), Puducherry (33.9%), Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) (76.8%), Pune rural 13.17%), Delhi (6.92%), Dibrugarh (9.68%), Jodhpur (10.58%), Noida rural (25.9%), Gurugram rural (25.9%) and rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir (25.05%) and Kerala 26.08%).  

The review was published in International Journal of Epidemiology.

The review also shows that factors such as gender, middle age, lower education status, performing moderate work and repetitive hand movements at work were significantly associated with musculoskeletal pain.

The review has pointed out that a large proportion of the adult population that suffers from various MSD’s goes unrecognized either due to poor understanding of the various factors associated with it or due to less efficient screening and treatment opportunities.

“Therefore, a clear understanding of the various factors is a must to identify these disorders in their earlier course and suitable treatment options to be provided along with the follow-up care,” it reads.

Dr Jugal Kishore, Director-Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Vardhman Mahaveer Medical College- Safdarjung Hospital, told DTMT: “Incidence of MSDs in 76.8% population is very high. To tackle this problem, the government needs to run a program that can reduce this high number of population with MSDs. It can be reduced by preventive measures.”

Dr Kishore, who is one of the authors of the review, added “MSDs impact quality of life and cause economic loss to the affected person. Road traffic injuries and trauma lead to MSDs. Pavements, playgrounds and civil works should be improved. People with fractured bones or with pain can not be left without treatment.”

Musculoskeletal disorders are the disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and supporting structures of the upper and lower limbs, neck, and lower back.

These disorders cause pain and discomfort which interfere with day to day activities. This fact was recognized and endorsed by World Health Organization and the United Nations.

The UN agencies declared ‘2000-2010’ as the “Bone and Joint Decade”. These disorders are caused by sudden exertion or prolonged exposure to physical factors (repetition, force, vibration, or awkward posture).

Musculoskeletal conditions, which cover 150 diseases and syndromes, are a diverse group with regard to pathophysiology but are linked anatomically and by their association with pain and impaired physical function.

MSDs include a spectrum of conditions, from those of acute onset and short duration to lifelong disorders, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and low back pain.


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