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OBJECTIVE: To report the levels and trends of prevalence, deaths, and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) due to musculoskeletal disorders, categorized as low back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), gout, and other musculoskeletal disorders, across 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2017 according to age, sex, and Sociodemographic Index (SDI; a composite of sociodemographic factors). METHODS: Data were obtained from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2017. The fatal and nonfatal burdens of musculoskeletal disorders were estimated using the Cause of Death Ensemble model and Bayesian meta-regression tool, respectively. Estimates were provided for all musculoskeletal disorders and the corresponding 6 categories at global, regional, and national levels from 1990 to 2017. Counts and age-standardized rates per 100,000 population along with 95% uncertainty intervals (95% UIs) were reported for prevalence, deaths, and DALYs. RESULTS: Globally, there were ~1.3 billion prevalent cases (95% UI 1.2 billion, 1.4 billion), 121.3 thousand deaths (95% UI 105.6 thousand, 126.2 thousand), and 138.7 million DALYs (95% UI 101.9 million, 182.6 million) due to musculoskeletal disorders in 2017. Age-standardized prevalence, death, and DALY rates per 100,000 population were 16,276.2 (95% UI 15,495.5, 17,145.8), 1.6 (95% UI 1.4, 1.6), and 1,720 (95% UI 1,264.4, 2,259.2), respectively. Age-standardized prevalence (-1.6% [95% UI -2.4, -0.8]) and DALY rates (-3.5% [95% UI -4.7, -2.3]) decreased slightly from 1990. The global point prevalence rate of musculoskeletal disorders in 2017 was higher in women than in men and increased with age up to the oldest age group. Globally, the proportion of prevalent cases according to category of musculoskeletal disorders in 2017 was greatest for low back pain (36.8%), followed by other musculoskeletal disorders (21.5%), OA (19.3%), neck pain (18.4%), gout (2.6%), and RA (1.3%). These proportions did not change appreciably compared with 1990. The burden due to musculoskeletal conditions was higher in developed countries. The countries with the highest age-standardized prevalence rates of musculoskeletal disorders in 2017 were Switzerland (23,346.0 [95% UI 22,392.6, 24,329.8]), Chile (23,007.9 [95% UI 21,746.5, 24,165.8]), and Denmark (22,166.1 [95% UI 20,817.2, 23,542.1]). The greatest increases from 1990 were found in Chile (10.8% [95% UI 6.6, 15.4]), Benin (8.8% [95% UI 6.7, 11.1]), and El Salvador (8.5% [95% UI 5.5, 11.9]). CONCLUSION: There is a large burden of musculoskeletal disorders globally, with some notable inter-country variation. Some countries have twice the burden of other countries. Increasing population awareness regarding risk factors, consequences, and evidence-informed treatment strategies for musculoskeletal disorders with a focus on the older female population in developed countries is needed, particularly for low back and neck pain and OA, which contribute a large burden among this cohort.

Original publication




Journal article


Arthritis rheumatol

Publication Date





702 - 714


Adolescent, Adult, Age Distribution, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Global Burden of Disease, Global Health, Humans, Incidence, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Middle Aged, Musculoskeletal Diseases, Prevalence, Quality-Adjusted Life Years, Sex Distribution, Survival Rate, Young Adult